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The Flower-Patch 
Among the Hills 



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The Flower- Patch 
Among the Hills 



Editor of 
"The Girl's Own Paper and Woman's Magazine" 


Frederick A. Stokes Company 


printed in great britain by 

William Clowes and Sons, Limited, 

stamford street, london, s.e. 

Dedicated to 
My Husband 

2136587 ' 

There twice a clay the Severn fills; 
The salt sea-water passes by, 
And hushes half the babbling Wye, 

And makes a silence in the hills. 

In Memoriam. 

Just to Explain 

I. Who Everybody is 

Virginia and her sister Ursula are my most 
intimate friends. Virginia — really quite a harm- 
less girl — imagines she has a scientific bias. 
Ursula — domesticated to the backbone — led a 
strenuous life in the pursuit of experimental 
psychology, till she switched oJBF to wash hospital 

It will be so obvious that I scarcely need 
add : What little common sense the trio possesses 
is centred in ME. 

Abigail is my housemaid ; her title to fame 
is the fact that she is the only servant I have 
ever been able to induce to remain more than 
a fortnight at one stretch in the country. The 
others, including those who are orphans, always 
have a parent who suddenly breaks its leg — after 
they have been about ten days away — and wires 
for them to come home at once. 

The cook has discovered a number of cousins 
in the Naval Division at the Crystal Palace 
(detachments of which pass my London house 
hourly, while many units partake of my cake 
and lemonade), and, of course, you can't neglect 
your relatives in war time. 

7 B 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

" You never know whether that'll be the last 
time you'll see them," she says, waving a tearful 
tea-towel at all and sundry who march past. 
Naturally, she doesn't care to be away from 
town for many days at a time. 

The parlourmaid was interested in a member 
of the L.C.C. Fire Brigade, when he enlisted, 
and incidentally married someone else — unfor- 
tunately the very week she was away with me. 
This has given her a marked distaste for the 
simple pleasures of rural life. 

Abigail is unengaged. " What I ask is : 
What better off are you if you are ? " she 
inquires of space. " Take my sister, now, with 

eight children, and " But as I am not 

taking anyone with eight children just now, 
the sister's biography is neither here nor there. 

Abigail is a willing, kindhearted girl. Also 
she has a mania for trying to arrange every 
single household ornament in pairs. She would 
be invaluable to anyone outfitting a Noah's 

As for the other people who walk through 
these pages, they do not appertain exclusively to 
one district. I have had two cottages, one 
beyond Godalming, in Surrey, the other high 
up among the hills that border the river Wye. 
Some of the country folk live in the one village, 
some in the other ; but the scenery, the little 


Just to 

wild things, and the garden are all related to the 
cottage that overlooks Tintern Abbey. 

II. Why the Cottage is 

I took a cottage in the country on a day when 
I had got to the fag-end of the very last straw, 
and felt I could not endure for another minute 
the screech of the trains, the honking of motors, 
the clanging of bells, the clatter of milk-carts, 
the grind-and-screel of electric cars, the ever- 
ringing telephone, the rattle and roar of the 
general traffic, the all-pervading odour of petrol, 
and the many other horrors that make both 
day and night hideous in our great city, and 
reduce the workers to nervous wreckage. 

The cottage has been so arranged that not 
one solitary thing within its walls shall bear 
any relation to the city left far behind ; and 
nothing is allowed to remind the occupants of 
the business rush, the social scramble, and the 
electric-light-type of existence that have become 
integral parts of modern life in towns. 

Here, to keep my idle hands from mischief, 
I made me a Flower-patch. 

III. Why this Book is 

I was viciously prodding up bindweed out of 
the cottage garden, with the steel kitchen poker, 
when the telegraph boy opened the gate. 

Q B 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

Unhinging my back, and inducing it into 
the upright with painful care, I read a message 
from my office to the effect that there was some 
hitch in regard to the American copyright of a 
certain article I had passed for press before 
leaving ; this would necessitate it being thrown 
out of the magazine that month. Would I 
wire back what should go in its place, as the 
machines were at a standstill ? 

Under ordinary circumstances I should merely 
have waved a hand, and instantly a suitable 
substitute would have been on the machines 
with scarcely a perceptible pause — that is, if I 
had been in London. But such is the witchery 
of the Flower-patch, that no sooner do I get 
inside the gate than I forget every mortal thing 
connected with my office. And try how I would, 
I couldn't recall what possible articles I had 
already in hand that would make exactly six 
pages and a quarter — the length of the one held 

And because I could think of nothing else 
on the spur of the moment, I threw down the 
poker (it was red-rust, alas, when I chanced 
upon it a week later) and went indoors and 
wrote about the cottage and the hills. 

When it was published in the magazine, 
readers very kindly wrote by the bagful begging 
for a continuation. It has been continuing — 
with perennial requests for more — for some time 


Just to 

now. This only shows how generously tolerant 
of editors are the readers of periodical literature. 

Virginia merely sniffs, " What won't people 

1 don't think she need have put it so baldly 
as that. 

If by some miraculous chance there should 
be any profits from the sale of this book, I 
intend to devote them to the purchase of a cow 
(or hen, if it doesn't run to a cow), to aid the 
national larder. I shall call it " the Memorial 
Cow," in memory of those who have been good 
enough to assist in its purchase. 

Should any reader wish to have the cow (or 
hen) named specially after him — or her — self 
this could doubtless be arranged. Particulars 
on application to the pubhsher. 



About Getting There 

We always consider that emancipation takes 
place at one exact spot on the Great Western 
Railway ; the only difficulty is that Virginia and 
1 never agree as to which is the exact spot. 

Virginia insists that the air suddenly changes 
just beyond Chepstow Station, where we change 
from the London and South Wales main line 
to the local train that, two or three times a day 
(week-days only), runs through our particular 
Valley, Hke a small boy's toy affair. 

This train, which makes up in black smoke 
for what it lacks of other dignity, steams out of 
the main line junction with an important snort 
and rumble; over the bridge it goes, and the 
stranger would imagine it was well under way. 
But no ; it then comes to a standstill at the 
point where the main line and the Valley line 
meet, in order that the gentleman who lives — 
we presume — in the signal-box (but who is 
always standing on the railway line when we 
see him) may hand to our engine-driver a metal 
staff — some sort of a key, they tell me, which is 
said to unlock the single railway line. I don't 
pretend to understand the process myself. I 
only know that our engine-driver looks lovingly 
at it as though it were the apple of his eye (I've 


About Getting 

craned my head out of the window, that's how 
1 know), and clasps it to his chest, until he gets 
to the first station on the Valley line, where he 
hands it over to the station-master, who, in turn, 
gives him another one, to which he clings just 
as pathetically. 

In this leisurely way we proceed up the 

It wouldn't have any deep significance, but 
for the fact that Virginia maintains it is the first 
key that unlocks the imprisoned Ego within her, 
and sets her soul free from the trammels and 
shackles and cobwebs and chains, hampering, 
warping, and enmeshing her, that have been 
riveted by the blighting tendencies of London 
(and a lot more to the same effect). She says 
she feels the fetters burst directly that key is 
handed over, for she knows then that the train 
is beyond the possibility of making a mistake, 
and getting back on to the London main line 
again instead of the single pair of Valley rails. 

Then it is that the air becomes fresher than 
ever. The primroses that grow all up the rocks, 
just beyond the signal-box, are very much finer 
than those on the junction side ; the Sweet 
Betsey (alias red valerian) starts to drape the 
ledges with rosy-crimson as soon as the signal- 
man walks back up the wooden steps to his 
cabin. And Virginia herself becomes a different 
being, though opinions are painfully divided as 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

to whether the change is for the better or for 
the worse. 

She says she feels just Hke the Lord Mayor, 
or the Speaker in the House of Commons, with 
a myrmidon going on ahead of her bearing the 

We just let her talk on when she gets light- 
headed like this. After all, this Rod of Office 
which the engine-driver cherishes is what Virginia 
waits for through four hours of express train — 
six if you go by a slow one. And the spot 
where he receives it on the Une is where she 
develops a beatific smile of wondrous amiability. 

For me, the chains snap a little further on. 

After the driver has received his Key of 
Office the train meanders peacefully through 
west country orchards, placid meadows, and 
tawny-gold cornfields ; past grey-brown hay- 
stacks ; past little cottages, each with its pig-sty 
and scratting hens, and a clothes-line displaying 
pinafores and sundry other garments only 
mentioned sotto voce in the paper pattern section 
of ladies' papers. Small, hatless, yellow-haired 
children, gathering daisies or cowslips in adjoining 
fields, wave at us as we go by. 

Then the engine braces itself for a mighty 
effijrt, and gives a business-like shriek on its 
whistle (this is the great exploit of the whole 
journey) as it plunges into a very long, dark, 
clattering tunnel, cut through solid rock. Here 


About Getting 

we sit in the breathless darkness for several 
minutes, to emerge finally upon scenery so 
unlike that we left behind at the entrance to 
the tunnel as to suggest that we had entered 
another country. 

Gone are the cornfields, the gentle undu- 
lations, gone the farms and cottages, the hayricks 
and barns. Almost in sheer precipices the rocks 
rise up from the rushing winding river in the 
valley below, clothed from summit to base with 
forest trees. The train, now an insignificant 
atom on the face of Nature, puffs vigorously 
along a ledge cut half-way up the face of these 
giant hills. 

From the windows on one side of the train 
you look down upon a world of rocks, trees and 
water, to the Horse Shoe bend, where the river 
turns and twists and doubles back on itself again. 
Not a house is in sight. 

The windows on the other side show more 
grey rocks rising up out of sight, with trees 
growing where you would scarcely think they 
could find root-hold, much less food to Uve and 
thrive on. And where it is bare stone, and there 
are no trees, the scarred and jagged surface of 
the rocks — due to far-away earth-rends and more 
modern rock-slides — is lovingly swathed and 
festooned with trails of Travellers' Joy and ivy 
and bryony ; while ferns and foxgloves, wild 
strawberries and Mother of Millions flourish on 


The riower-Patch 
among the Hills 

the narrow ledges, and sprout out from sheltered 
crannies — such a mist of delicate loveliness 
veiling all that is grim and cold and hard. 

Even the wooden posts, from which wire is 
stretched to fence off the railway company's land 
from the adjoining woods, are entirely covered 
with a Uving mosaic of small-leaved ivy, patterned, 
with no two scrolls alike, in a way that human 
hand could never copy. 

Below there is always the river, that swirls 
and rushes noisily at low tide over its weirs. A 
heron stands motionless on a grey-green moss- 
covered boulder near the bank. He looks up at 
the httle train ; but it is too far away to worry 
him. He, and a kite circling high overhead, are 
the only signs of life to be seen as one passes 
along. Yet the whole earth is teeming with 
small folk, furred and feathered ; the rarest of 
butterflies are glinting over the rocks ; the otter 
is hiding down in the river-pools ; and from time 
to time a salmon leaps into the air, a flash, a 
streak of silver, and a series of eddying ripples — 
that is all. 

This is the spot where, for me, a new hfe 
begins ; where unconsciously I draw my breath 
with a deep intake, and suddenly feel the past 
slipping from me ; the noise and din, the sordid- 
ness and care of the city fade into the background 
and become nothing more substantial than some 
remote nightmare. 


About Getting 

Here in this Valley of Peace and Quietness 
my dreams become realities. And best of all, 
here God seems to lay His Hand on tired heart 
and tired brain ; and 1 find myself saying, " This 
is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to 
rest, and this is the refreshing." 

We had just witnessed the presentation of 
the first key. As usual, Virginia and I had 
been arguing — no, that isn't the right word ; I 
never argue ; I merely discuss things intelligently. 
At any rate, we had been exchanging views 
(that differed) as to the exact place where we 
noticed the great change come over ourselves in 
particular, and things in general. As we didn't 
get any nearer a final settlement we appealed to 
Ursula, who was sitting silent, with a far-away 
look in her eyes, as of one engaged in bridging 
space and measuring the stars. 

She came back to earth, however, at our 
question, and said she was absolutely sure the 
moment of her great transformation was when 
she got hold of a cup of proper domestic tea, as 
distinct from the indigestive railway variety. 
Indeed, for the past few minutes she had been 
entirely absorbed in the mental contemplation of 
the meal she hoped Abigail would soon be 
preparing. Even then she could smell the 
sizzling ham and the frying eggs and the buttered 
toast we should have on arrival. 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

We were in the sulphurous depths of the 
tunnel at the moment. Naturally I was hurt. 
As I said to her, I knew my board was frugal, 
and my viands simple, modest, unaffected and 
unassuming, but at least they didn't smell like 
that ! 

Fortunately she hadn't much time to explain 
what she did and what she didn't mean, for we 
came out of the tunnel into the panorama of 
hills and silence ; no one ever talks much just 
here, save the braying type of tourist. 

Besides, there is the " Abbey " to watch for. 
No matter how many times you may see that, 
you always wait expectantly for the moment 
when you catch the first glimpse of the wonderful 
grey ruin. 

The abbey-makers of the olden days not 
only knew how to build, but they also knew 
how to " place " their beautiful structures. And 
the setting of our Abbey is as nearly perfect as 
anything can be in this world. 

The steep hills recede a little bit just at one 
bend of the river, leaving room for a broad green 
meadow between the water and the uprising 
steeps. Here the Abbey was placed : a babbling 
river in the foreground, dark larch-covered hills 
in the background. Surely it is no fanciful 
exaggeration to think that the beauty all around 
them must have influenced the men who raised 
that wonderful poem in stone ! 


About Getting 

I would like to take you into the Abbey and 
show you the beautiful views that can be seen 
from every ruined window, each one a framed 
picture in itself; the spray of oak-leaves carved 
on one piece of stone, the live snapdragons 
growing out of buttresses, the graceful spring of 
each slender arch, the perfect proportions of 
the whole building, for, despite the cruel wreckage 
it suffered in the past, it is still the most lovely 
Gothic ruin in England. 

But to-day we can't stay. 

The train hurries on, through another short 
tunnel, over a bridge spanning the river and a 
talkative weir, and then into our station. 

In the summer there is a good deal of bustle 
in this station, which is the haunt of many 
tourists. I am told that five out of every ten 
visitors are from the United States. No American 
thinks of " doing " England without seeing our 
valley, which is famous for its scenery and its 
ruins. Thus you always find a number of 
women in trim " shirt-waists," and wearing large 
chiffon veils on the top of their hats at angles 
quite unknown to the Enghsh woman, sitting 
on the platform about train time, writing the 
usual budget of picture postcards. 

But we aren't " foreigners " (as the natives 
style everyone who doesn't belong to their 
village). That is one of the many charms of 
arriving at this station. Here no one regards us 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

merely as passengers who can't find their luggage ; 
or, passengers who have changed where they 
had no business to ; or, passengers who expect 
the local porter to know by heart all the railway 
connections and times of return trains through- 
out the British Isles. Neither are we among the 
people who look suspiciously at every wagonette 
driver, certain that he is going to overcharge, 
and uncertain as to which is likely to overcharge 
the least. We have no anxieties concerning the 
truth of the advertised merits of the various 
hotels, and apartments to let, in the village. 

We " belong." 

There is a sense of home-coming in our 
arrival. The porters actually rush forward to 
help with our luggage, and the station-master 
raises his cap. 

Old Bob — who occupies the doubly proud 
position of being the only one among the fiy 
proprietors who displays a pair of steeds attached 
to his vehicle, while he is also the one who 
usually drives what he describes as " the 
e-light-y" — is waiting with his wagonette (and 
pair, don't forget) and a cart for the luggage. 

It really is comforting to be claimed by 
someone at the end of a journey, if it be but the 
wagonette driver. I feel so solitary, such an 
orphan, when I chance to arrive alone at some 
strange place in quest of a holiday, possibly un- 
known to a single person but the landlady-to-be. 


About Getting 

Don't you know the sinking feeling that comes 
over you as you look round upon the crowds of 
people, some scrambling in, and some scrambling 
out of the train ; every face a blank so far as 
you are concerned ? No one to trouble whether 
you ever get any further, or whether you remain 
in that jostling turmoil for ever. 

You almost wish you could get into the train 
and go back to town again ; you reflect that 
there at least the butcher knows you, and the 
people next door, and the crossing-sweeper at 
the corner. 

You revive after having some tea, but it is 
possible to spend a very doleful, homesick quarter 
of an hour between the time you get out of the 
train and the time you sit down to a meal in 
some strange room, whose painful unlikeness to 
the ones you live in accentuates your loneliness. 

But that never happens to us in our Valley. 
Before we have got out of our compartment, 
Abigail is already on the platform and holding a 
levee consisting of two porters, the signalman, 
the assistant engine-driver from a goods train in 
the siding, and old Bob's nephew, who drives 
the cart. All lend a hand as she proceeds to 
marshal the luggage, and with a peremptory 
wave of her umbrella, directs its disposal. 

Of course there really isn't much luggage. 
That is one of the advantages of retreating to 


The riower-Patch 
among the Hills 

your own secluded cottage ; being oflP the beaten 
track as we are, there is no necessity to take 
many "toilettes" — either demi or semi — or a 
large variety of lounge robes, or matinees, or 
boudoir negligees, or rest frocks, or tea-gowns, 
or cocoa- coats, or evening wraps built of chiffon, 
and really necessary, handy things of that sort. 
All we take with us is just a few clothes to 

On one occasion Virginia did bring down a 
long " article " (I don't know what else to call it) 
composed of about ten yards of white net, 
embroidered here and there with large beads, an 
artificial rose sewn on to one corner of the 
curtain-like thing, a gilt-metal fringe suggestive 
of shoelace tags all around the edges. She 
couldn't quite understand how she came by it, 
she said. She remembered an energetic ultra- 
elegant shop-assistant, somewhere, displaying it 
before her, with the information that it was a 
" slumber swirl," and assuring her, condescend- 
ingly, that it was the very latest, and absolutely 
sweet, and just the thing for outdoors in the 
summer. Virginia said she agreed with her, she 
was sure ; knowing her own sweet and plastic 
disposition, she would certainly have agreed with 
her ; she was thankful to say she wasn't one of 
those people who perpetually disagree with other 
people. But — she had no recollection of having 
attached her name and address to the wisp, much 


About Getting 

less of having paid for it ! Still, the energetic 
damsel had sent it home — and here it was ! 

Ursula, after one glance at the confection, 
hastily turned her eyes away and announced 
that, for her part, she didn't consider it — well, 
quite adequate ! 

Her sister explained that it wasn't supposed 
to be worn that way ; and she arranged herself 
with closed eyes on the sofa to show us how it 
would look when draped over her — head and all 
— as she rested in the hammock. It took a lot 
of adjusting so as to avoid getting some knobbly 
bead motif just under her ear, and to prevent the 
shoe-lace tags attacking the under-side of the face. 
And when she had at last found a spot of unem- 
bellished net on which to lay her rose-leaf cheek, 
she was afraid to move for fear of splitting the 
frail net. 

Ursula merely snorted. 

When next I saw the " slumber swirl," part 
of it had been converted into a meat-safe of 
irreproachable moral character, Ursula having 
utilised the frame of our getting-worn-out one 
for the purpose. 

No ; our luggage is only trifling, and only 
consists of just what we need. Abigail takes 
mine and her own to Paddington in a bus, which 
also picks up the luggage of the other two girls 
en route. Individually, the details do not seem 

23 c 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

much, but I confess, when I see it dumped all 
together on the platform, the aggregate looks 
somewhat nondescript. 

There will be four large hat-boxes (or five if 
Abigail brings more than one) ; anything from 
three to seven trunks ; Abigail's collapsible straw 
basket ; a bundle of umbrellas and sunshades ; 
the dog, in his travelling basket ; a chip basket 
containing pots of mysterious seedlings Virginia 
has been specially raising in town (which usually 
get upset once or twice on the way, and have 
been known to turn out docks). There is sure 
to be a cardboard box for one of Abigail's best 
Jap silk Sunday frocks that she doesn't want to 
get crushed ; a string bag containing Abigail's 
novels and snippety weeklies, her crochet, a few 
oranges, two bananas, some chocolate, and what- 
ever other refreshment she will need on the 
journey ; a brown-paper parcel holding a few 
articles of wearing apparel, also belonging to 
Abigail, that she only remembered at the last 
minute, and cook did up for her. 

Then Ursula is sure to bring some contribu- 
tion to the larder — perhaps tomatoes and a cake. 
Naturally, there is our lunch basket ; and I, 
personally, never feel complete unless I have my 
leather dispatch-box beside me. I also take a 
suit-case containing my mackintosh — in case it 
rains when I arrive — books and papers which I 
never read, knitting, and similar necessities for 


About Gettin 

the journey ; it is also useful as a final receptacle 
for oddments I omitted to pack elsewhere. 
Virginia and Ursula bring similar suit-cases, for 
similar reasons. 

Sometimes Abigail springs surprises on us at 
the last minute. " Whatever have you there ? " 
I asked one day, as she joined us on the Padding- 
ton platform, a janghng parcel in one hand that 
sounded Uke a badly cracked bell, and a large 
protrusion — silent, fortunately — embraced in the 
other arm. 

" Oh, this is just a new zinc pail " (shaking 
the musical packet), " we need an extra one ; and 
I've put in a Httle iron shovel, as I want one for 
my kitchen scuttle : and there's a nutmeg grater 
too ; the one down there is getting rusty. And 
this " (nodding towards her chest) " is an enamel 
washing-up bowl. Our big one down there 

And she proceeded serenely on her way to 
the accompaniment of iron shovel clink-clanging 
against zinc pail, with the nutmeg-grater tintin- 
nabulating cheerfully in a higher key — and 
evidently pleased at the public interest she was 

Not that her surprises are always so useful. 
On one occasion I noticed she had brought two 
collapsible straw baskets, but concluded she had 
some very special new frocks for the flower show. 
The porter disposed of the luggage — while 

25 c 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

Abigail was looking the bookstall over. When 
she returned and found both baskets missing, she 
rushed to the guard's van. Soon things were 
being dragged out again, Abigail excitedly urging 
haste. The guard helped, Abigail assisting with 
much conversation. 

Eventually she lugged one basket up to her 
own compartment, scorning the help of the 
penitent porter. As she passed my compartment, 
a heartrending " mee-au " came from the basket. 

" What in the world— !I— III " I began. 

"It's only Angelina," Abigail explained. 
" She hasn't seemed well lately. I thought a 
change of air might do her good. Only it gave 
me a bit of a fright when I found they'd put her 
in the van, thinking she was luggage ! " 

(Incidentally, Angelina is my cat.) 

Being my own place and not someone else's 
we are going to, it occasionally happens that 
there are items of furnishing that need to go 
down, a mirror, for instance, that is too large to 
pack in a trunk. Strictly speaking, the railway 
company might be within their rights if they 
argued that such things could not legitimately 
be called passenger's luggage ; but Virginia said, 
with regard to the mirror — 4 feet x 2 — that if 
they objected to take it, she should tell them 
every woman is entitled to carry a mirror among 
her personal luggage. 

Fortunately no one so far has objected to any 

About Getting 

of the details of our impedimenta^ so long as the 
excess charges are promptly paid. We usually 
go down with the same guard. I tell him what 
the contraband is. He carries the parcel off 
majestically, assuring me that his one eye won't 
leave it all the way down, no matter where the 
other may be focused ; and he begs me to have 
no anxiety as to its safety. I haven't. I know 
from long experience that the guards and officials 
on the G.W.R. have elevated poUteness and 
courtesy from a mere duty to a fine art. 

Sometimes I almost wish they wouldn't take 
quite such care of our things I There was the 
brown pitcher, for instance. I had been wanting 
a very large one for fetching the water from the 
spring outside the cottage gate. Of course, I 
know you can get big enamel jugs (painted 
duck-egg blue, or anything else in the art line 
that you fancy) ; but the latter seems so strident, 
so townified, so newly-rich, so over-dressed, when 
you see them beside our moss-grown wooden 
spout, where the mountain spring splashes down 
into a stony hollow, among ferns and long mosses. 
The sturdy but humble brown pitcher tones in 
better with the pale yellow sand in the bottom of 
the hollow, the browns and greys and greens of 
the stones and growing things all round. The 
very water falls into it with a mellow musical 
sound, instead of the hollow tinny ring that the 
enamelled creature gives forth. 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

But I couldn't see one in the village shop as 
big as I required. Ursula, however, ran against 
the very thing unexpectedly in town. The only 
difficulty was the packing, so she decided to 
carry it just as it was. Virginia expressed a 
sincere hope that she would at least tie a pale 
blue bow on the handle. 

She got it safely as far as Paddington, but 
here an iron pillar suddenly ran alongside and 
torpedoed the pitcher— so she said — knocking a 
small but very business-like hole clean through 
its bulging side. Then the question arose : What 
was she to do with the remnants ? The train 
was due to start in two minutes, so she hadn't 
time to inquire for the station dust-bin. 

Virginia suggested that she should try to 
induce the bookstall boy to accept it as payment 
for a packet of milk chocolate ; failing that, she 
had better put an advertisement in the paper 
offering a wonderful specimen of antique Roman 
pottery in exchange for a sable motoring coat, or 
a cartload of white mice. 

What she did do was to leave it tidily on the 
nearest seat, with the intention of bestowing 
sixpence on the first porter she could waylay if 
he would make himself responsible for its after 
career. But apparently every employee at 
Paddington Station had enlisted. 

The whistle was blown, and the train started 
to move slowly, just as the vigilant eye of the 


About Getting 

guard fell upon the disabled crock. His face 
lighted up. He seized it, rushed to the moving 
compartment containing Ursula. " Madam," he 
gasped, " you have forgotten this," and he thrust 
it into her arms. 

She didn't dare try to leave it behind any 
more ! 

Then there was the fish. It was on an 
occasion when Virginia was coming down by 
herself, and thus lacked the restraining, and 
more practical, hand of Ursula. Now, as I have 
already hinted, Virginia is an intelligent girl. 
She can tell you exactly how many million tons 
of certain chemicals could be excavated from 
the very bottom of Vesuvius (if only they could 
manage to put the fire out, of course), and how, 
if these milhon tons were applied to the land in 
Mars, as artificial manure, the wheat crop they 
would produce in one year — if only you could 
raise their temperature a few hundred degrees, 
and this could easily be done if you transfer — by 
wireless — the heat that isn't needed in Vesuvius 
to Mars (or is it the moon?), where they do 
want it— why, then — (where was I ?) — Oh, yes, 
the wheat crop they would harvest per annum 
would be sufficient to feed the whole of the 
inhabitants of this planet of ours, and several 
others thrown in, for — I forgot how many dozen 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

T^ Yes, she is a very bright girl, just as well 
informed on any other subject you like to 
mention — excepting fish ! There she draws a 
woeful blank: she has no more notion how to 
tell fresh fish at sight than a baby ! 

Still, she is generous in her intentions, and as 
no one ever thinks of journeying to the cottage 
without taking something in the eatable line — it 
is only right to take a little present when you go 
to stay with friends, isn't it ? — Virginia cast about 
as to what she could bring. Game has no 
attraction — we have plenty of that. Fish, on 
the contrary, is a rarity. Although our river is 
full, we seldom see fish at the cottage, excepting 
a very over-due variety that a man peddles round 

So she decided on fish — alas ! And hastened 
into the first fishmonger's she saw and ordered a 
dozen pairs of soles. She maintains that wasn't 
what she meant to ask for. It was oysters she 
wanted to bestow on me, and she went in with 
the definite intention of purchasing a dozen 
oysters. At that moment, however, her mind 
was somewhat pre-occupied with a scientific in- 
vention she was thinking out, whereby no woman 
need ever again handle a broom or carpet-sweeper 
or anything of that kind. 

It was a simple device, consisting of a vacuum 
between the layers of leather on the bottom of 
the shoe, and some sort of a suction arrangement 


About Getting 

whereby you drew up the dust from the carpet 
(or wherever you walked) just by stepping on it. 
You would clear as you go, and instead of a 
person trailing dirt up and down the stairs by, 
walking straight in from the garden and up to 
the top attic, they would really be giving the 
stair carpet what would be equal to a good 

Moreover, not only would spring cleaning 
be banished for ever — when her invention was 
perfected — but your shoes would never more 
need mending. The dust collected in the shoe, 
being subject to so many cubic inches of pressure 
due to the person standing on top of the shoe, 
would become so compressed and self-adhesive 
as to offer a direct resistance to the friction set 
up between boot and alien matter trodden upon, 
equal to the inverse ratio of — I haven't the 
faintest notion what ! But I dare say you can 
follow her line of argument. She herself says 
she is always lucid and concise. 

At any rate, I remember she said that it was 
terribly hard to be the mother of a huge family 
of boys, who not only trailed dust and dirt into 
the house at all times and seasons, but also wore 
out innumerable pairs of boots into the bargain. 
Whereupon I reminded her that neither of us 
need worry personally about that just yet ! 

She agreed, but said that did not alter her 
desire to benefit her day and generation, and to 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

rid the world of "the Burden of the Broom." 
And she was meditating on this, and thinking of 
all the leather we had wasted by letting it wear 
off the bottoms of our boots, when she saw 
the fish shop, and though she thought a dozen 
" oysters," what she said was a dozen " pairs of 
soles " — and, of course, I would recognise that 
the mistake wasn't her fault ; it was entirely due 
to the psychological action of the subconscious 
something that connected soles with boots, etc. 

Anyhow, the result was that she paid cheer- 
fully for such a collection of fish as I hope I may 
never see again. And how happy that fishmonger 
must have been, when the transaction was com- 
pleted, only those who got a whifF of the fish can 

Virginia admitted that she thought the price 
seemed a lot for a dozen oysters (soles were two 
shillings a pound at the time), and the bag seemed 
heavy. Also, she confessed that it was a trifle 
more than she had intended to spend on a present 
for me at that moment, though she, being a real 
lady, would have been the last to mention it if I 
hadn't. No, she hadn't thought to look at what 
he put it ; she merely told him to pack them up 
very securely, as she was going a long railway 
journey. She didn't know they were soles till 
she glanced at the bill in the train. She consoled 
me with the information that fish has the most 
wonderful phosphorescent properties, invaluable 


About Getting 

in the case of brain-fag ; and she should see that 
I ate it all ! 

After a few miles of the journey the soles 
grew a little noisy in the rack. You don't want 
to look a gift-horse in the mouth — truth to tell, 
I didn't want to look at that particular gift at all. 
But I had to open both windows. 

At our first stop, Reading, when the guard 
came to the door and politely inquired, "Are 
you ladies all right ? Can I get you anything ? " 
I asked him if he would be so good as to take 
charge of the big rush bag. I suggested that he 
could tie it on to the back buffer at the very end 
of the train. I assured him it was nothing that 
would hurt. But he only smiled, and said he had 
plenty of room in his own compartment ; the 
basket would be quite safe there, no one would 
touch it. I could quite believe it 1 

When he came down the platform at Swindon 
he looked very pale and out of sorts, I thought. 
Conscience-stricken, I pressed a shilling into his 
hand, and begged him to get himself a good cup 
of tea. He said he would, and certainly seemed 
to have revived when next he passed. 

We got it home, eventually, without Abigail 
detecting it — I wanted to save Virginia's face 
before the handmaiden — as we took the basket, 
wrapped up in my mackintosh, in the wagonette 
with us, Abigail following behind in the luggage- 
cart. She did say later, however, that she wished 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

that pedlar and his awful kippers and bloaters 
could be suppressed by law. He had evidently 
just been round, she said, and she could smell 
his wretched fish all the way as she drove up. 
We didn't tell her what we had hidden in the 
old barn. 

We buried them darkly at dead of night. 
The only soft spot we could find, that admitted 
of a good-sized trench being dug without much 
trouble, was the moist earth beside the brook in 
the lower orchard. 

Next morning, at breakfast-time, when the 
small dog ran in to greet us, his nose and paws 
showed signs of active service as he joyfully 
dabbed brown mud on the front of our fresh 
print frocks, and waggled his tail with the air of 
a dog who is conscious of heroic achievements. 
Abigail followed him with the bacon-dish, which, 
in her excitement, she tried to balance on the top 
of the coffee-pot. 

" You'd never believe what a high tide 
there has been in the brook I " she began. " A 
spring tide, I should think. It's washed up 
hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of large 
fish on to the bank. Never saw such a thing in 
my life before. First I knew of it was slipping 
on one on the kitchen hearthrug. Dandie had 
brought one in— wanted me to grill it for his 
breakfast, I suppose I Then 1 found he'd carried 
one up to the mat outside your bedroom door, 


About Getting 

and just dropped a few others here and there 
about the house. So I went out to see where 
he got 'em from. Judging by the smell, they 
must have lain there for weeks. Wish I'd been 
here with a net at the time. I've never caught 
a live fish in my life, though I've often tried to 
fish in the pond on Peckham Rye." 

Naturally we expressed great interest, and 
suggested immediate cremation in the kitchener. 

Later on, the handy man was decidedly 
sceptical. His grandfeyther had once caught a 
trout in that brook (only he gave long bio- 
graphical, geographical and historical details, 
which proved that it wasn't that brook at all) ; 
but he hadn't a-seed any hisself a-coming down. 

Abigail scornfully pointed out that high tides 
came up, and these fish had been washed up 
from the river, which is 700 feet below ; and she 
flapped one as evidence before his astonished 

Seeing is believing in our village ! 

To this day Abigail's tales, to cook and co. 
and her friends at home, of how she goes out 
and catches soles as large as plaice in our own 
brook, and boils them for supper, equal any fish 
stories ever told ! 

But to return to the luggage and ourselves, 
which I left waiting at our httle station. 

While the luggage is being stowed into the 


The riower-Patch 
among the Hills 

vehicles, we take stock of the platform, th*t 
seems to fancy itself the pivot of the universe ! 
Everybody that is going away scrambles into 
the train with precipitate haste, as though they 
were trying to catch a train on the Tube, or a 
sprinting motor-bus in the Strand ! although 
they know quite well that the peaceful old 
engine — already twenty- five minutes behind 
time — won't think of stirring again until it has 
had a ten minutes' nap I 

Those who have just arrived seem equally in 
a hurry to get somewhere else, and they try to 
squeeze three thick out of the small station 
gate — only to plant themselves in the path just 
outside for a long gossip with the first person 
they see. 

There are women with empty baskets return- 
ing from market, and women seeing off friends, 
each carrjring a huge *' bookey " of flowers, built 
up in the approved style, from the back: first 
a big background rhubarb leaf, or something 
equally green and spacious, then some striped 
variegated grass — gardeners' garters, we call it ; 
also some southernwood — better known as Old 
Man's Beard ; tall flowers like foxgloves, phlox, 
Japanese anemones, early dahlias and sunflowers 
follow ; the shorter stems of pinks, calceolarias, 
sweet Williams and roses are the next in succes- 
sion ; finishing off" with some georgeous pansies 
and a very fat cabbage rose with a short stem 


About Getting 

(that persists in tumbling out), a piece of sweet- 
briar, and a few silver and gold everlasting 
flowers down low in the front. If you have a 
geranium in your window, etiquette demands 
that you add the best spray — as a special 
offering — to the bunch, telling your friend all 
about the way you got that geranium cutting, 
and the trouble you had to rear it. 

You know the sort of complacent well-packed 
bunches that are the result of this combination. 
Not artistic, of course, according to town 
standards, but, all the same, they are dears ; and 
I always feel I want every one I see. 

The station itself is a flower garden. And 
even in the space outside, where the motor-cars 
await the rich, and the wagonettes and carts 
await the nearly-poor, primroses and violets and 
cowslips and bluebells grow thick on the banks. 

Naturally the arrival of the train is a matter 
of local importance, and if you happen to be 
near the station about train-time you go in and 
sit on the platform just to see who comes or 

And how well everybody looks, and sturdy, 
and brown, after the pale anaemic faces we have 
left in town I You think how happy they must 
all be here in the fresh air and the sunshine. So 
they ought to be, and so most of them could be, 
if only they kept a look-out for happiness, and 
seized all that came their way. But human 


The Flower-Patcn 
among the Hills 

nature the world over seems to love to con- 
template the tragic, or at least to pity itself! 
The result is that every other person you meet 
in our village will tell you a tale of woe as highly- 
coloured as anything you hear in town. 

" How do you do ? " I inquired, last time I 
arrived, of a comfortable healthy-looking woman, 
who had just been seeing her daughter off by 
train. Her husband is a steady man, in regular 
work. She owns the cottage she lives in, and a 
pig, and has no difficulty in supplying the wants 
of her family, which are few. 

" Oh, I'm not up to much, m'm," she began. 
*' Things is so hard nowadays, and no one gives 
we a bit o' help. There's that Jane Price, she 
got a pound of tea, and a hundudweight of coal, 
and a red flannel petticut, from the lady of the 
manor at Christmas, and she be a widder with 
on'y her children. But / on'y got some tea and 
a petticut (not a nice colour red neither), no coal 
nor nothing, and thur I've got he to keep as well 
as the children, and in course I need it wuss'n 
her do I" 

Further along the platform I spoke to the 
wife of a small farmer, a healthy soul, with 
nothing much to worry her. But she didn't 
intend to be behindhand with trouble ! Other 
people found plenty to moan about ; she wasn't 
to be outdone. 

" You've heard of the awful time I'm having 

About Getting 

with my husband ? Fell down in the wood and 
broke his leg in four places ! Suffers terrible, he 

I expressed sympathy, and asked how long 
he had been in bed. 

" Oh, he isn't in bed ; can't spare the time to 
lay up, with the haymaking just on. He's 
cutting the five-acre field to-day. He gets 
about, but he has an abundation of pain at 
nights. Yes, you're right. Very active he is, 
there's no keeping him still. He'll walk to his 
own funeral, he will." 

Actually the man had a touch of rheumatism I 

Finally we are settled in the fly, piled up 
with the lighter luggage, while Abigail and old 
Bob's nephew follow in the cart. 

To the stranger who has never been in our 
Valley before, the drive to the Cottage is a thing 
of wonder ; to those of us who do the journey 
many times in the course of the year new 
beauties are always revealing themselves, and 
the whole scene seems more lovely each time we 
look upon it, if that be possible. 

The station is on the river level, down in the 
green depths of the Valley. But you cannot go 
many yards on level ground, as the hills on 
either side of the river are steep, with nothing 
but the narrowest footpath in places, between 
their precipitous sides and the fast-rushing water. 

39 D 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

In many cases the cottage-gardens on the hill- 
side have to be kept up with walls of stone — as 
one sees the vineyards built up on steep hill-sides 
in vine-growing districts — otherwise the rains 
and swollen brooks would wash the earth down, 
in the winter, into the river below. 

The horses start the ascent as soon as they 
leave the station, and pass through the small 
village, which shows a curious medley in the 
way of architecture. In the wall of an old 
cow-house there is a Gothic window, built 
probably with stones taken from the ruined 
Abbey ; all the windows of one cottage bear an 
ecclesiastical stamp. Before the beautiful ruin 
was carefully guarded as it is now, people must 
have gone and helped themselves as they pleased 
to carved stonework and any fragment that 
they could make use of; and thus you may find 
an exquisite bit of carved stone in a most 
ordinary three-roomed dwelling. Some of the 
cottages and barns may have been part of the 
Abbey property; at any rate one comes on 
architectural surprises in the most unexpected 

But even though in this district man's handi- 
work has achieved wondrous things, it is the 
work of Nature that claims the attention. 

The Abbey seems a huge pile when you 
stand under its roofless walls ; but once you start 
to ascend the hills, everything takes on new 



About Getting 

proportions. No longer are you shut in by two 
high green hill-walls, the higher you go the 
smaller become the hills that are nearest to you, 
as they reveal far greater giants behind them. 
The blue Welsh mountains rise up, still further 
beyond again. 

Below, the river winds and loses itself, 
seeming to come to an abrupt end against a 
barrier of dark green slopes ; but it evidently 
finds a way out, for it is seen further on in the 
far distance, a silver, gleaming band, still winding, 
and still guarded by mountains that now are 
tinged with the purply-blue tone that Nature 
uses for her distant effects. 

The lanes through which we pass are miracles 
of loveliness, with their ferns and flowers and 
birds and butterflies. But I think one's over- 
whelming thought is of the grandeur of the 
distances. One is always looking away to the 
far-off, to the farms and small homesteads dotted 
at rare intervals on far heights and among the 
forests ; to the peaks beyond peaks ; to the light 
playing on miles of birch and oak; to the 
shadowy coombes where hills drop down into 
other valleys. 

I have always noticed, when I am bringing 
anyone for the first time from the station to my 
house, that, though I point out the roadside 
springs and waterfalls, the glory of the hedges, 
the rose-coloured honeysuckle that grows over 

41 D 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

one cottage, smothering roof, chimneys and all, 
the visitors do not expend so much admiration 
on any of this, it is always the inexplicable 
mystery of the hills that holds them. Every 
five minutes takes one higher, and reveals a 
further panorama. Beautiful as are the lesser 
things, lovely as is the old ruined Abbey, the 
human and the near seem to slip away from you 
as you look across the deep chasm where the 
river lies below, to the vastness on the other side. 
There is a power, a force born of great heights 
and great spaces, that cannot be explained, but is 
surely felt by all who have not mortgaged their 
soul to mammon. There was a depth of mystic 
meaning in the words of the shepherd poet, even 
in the world's young days, when he wrote : " 1 
will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence 
cometh my help." 

It takes you about an hour to drive up to 
the cottage, and by this time the lane has grown 
so narrow — and so bumpy ! — that you marvel the 
horses have ever got you there at all. But 
when you have reached the little white gate you 
stand and look in silence. A new touch is added 
to the landscape. You are now high enough to 
look over the tops of some of the intervening 
hills, and there away beyond, between a dip in 
the hills, you see a gleaming band of silver, the 
waters of the Channel. 

Some people consider no scenery perfect 

About Getting 

unless there is a railway in the foreground to 
take them back to town as soon as possible. 
Some artists always want a touch of scarlet to 
complete any picture. Myself, I always think a 
glimpse of water is needed to make a beautiful 
view absolutely satisfying. At my cottage I am 
doubly blessed ! I can see the river in the 
Valley below, and beyond there is the Channel, 
towards which that river is ever hurrying. 

During the drive up, the small white dog 
with brown ears, sits on the box seat, dividing 
his time between shrieking BilUngsgate insults 
to every local dog (I blush for his manners. 
And he looks so refined too !) and licking old 
Bob's face. Not that he has any particular 
affection for our driver, but he gets quite 
hysterical when he sees the countryside and 
scents the rabbits ; and old Bob is the handiest 
recipient for his overwhelming gratitude. A 
few dogs trail after us through the village, telling 
him — and one another — what they will do when 
they get hold of him ; but they fall back when 
it comes to the hill ; and our own treasure looks 
triumphantly ahead for new dogs to revile ; 
deluding himself with the idea that he has slain 
all behind him, and left their corpses in the 
road I Occasionally he ceases to be a bullying 
war-dog, and becomes almost human ; then he 
suddenly looks round at us, wags his tail all he 
knows how, and gives a httle whimper that 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

plainly says, ** Isn't it good to be here again ! " 
And we all agree. 

It is good to see the hills, and the valleys, 
the sturdy trees, and the tender little ferns 
growing out of the walls. Best of all, it is good 
to see the small white gate, and the red-tiled 
roof, and the blue smoke curling up, oh, so 
peacefully, from the cottage chimney. It is 
good to see the flowers smothering the walls 
and the garden beds ; and very good to greet 
one's own furniture again, one's own rooms, 
one's own familiar things — no matter how humble 
they may be. 

For months we have clean forgotten that the 
living-room window requires two thumps if it is 
to be got open ; yet without a moment's hesi- 
tation Ursula pulls off her gloves the moment 
we enter the door, makes straight for the 
window, and gives it the requisite couple of 
vigorous bangs, so as to let in the evening scent 
of the honeysuckle that is thick about the porch. 
For months, it may be, we have forgotten 
entirely that the lid of the biggest brown teapot 
has a knack of tumbling off into the teacup, 
unless it is held on while one pours. And yet, 
the moment I take up that teapot again, in- 
stinctively my hand grips the lid. 

There is an indefinable spirit of welcome in 
all these little familiar things — so commonplace 
and feeble and stupid they would seem to out- 


About Getting 

siders ; yet to us they imply that " we belong." 
It is part of the all-pervading rest that we find 
among these hills, that we go on from just 
where we left off last time. We don't have to 
start afresh, or get acquainted with the place, or 
learn anything new. There is a great charm in 
returning to familiar scenes that is missed by 
those who are always rushing off on some new 
quest. True, they may find interest in another 
direction ; but I think with most of us — ex- 
cepting when we are very young and very in- 
experienced — the homing instinct is strong. 

I have laid my battered brain on pillows in 
some of the largest hotels in the world ; but I 
have never known in any of them the peaceful 
rest that is to be found in the cottage bedroom, 
despite its sloping roof. I'm not saying that 
there is nothing whatever to disturb one there — 
all too often Mr. and Mrs. Starling (several of 
them) persist in building under the tiles just 
above my head, and the various families demand 
breakfast at 8.30. Yet I even get to sleep 
through this. 

There is one thing, however, that always 
wakes me and calls me in a most peremptory 
manner to get up, and that is the return of the 
swallows one morning in April or May, when the 
sites are being chosen for the new nests under 
the eaves. It is such a sweet little chatter, such 
a bubbling over of comment and advice and 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

reminiscence, as they get their first beakful of 
mud, and start to lay the foundation-stone of 
the nest. 

What do they say ? I often wonder. They 
seem to talk the whole time, and explain to each 
other the excellent residential qualities of their 
various positions. One thing I am sure they say 
— and they twitter it over and over again — I 
know they mean it, though I don't understand 
their language ; for the homing instinct is strong 
in them, as it is in all of Nature's children ; and 
as I listen to them in the early morning, I can 
almost hear their words, '* Isn't it good to be 
here again ? " 



At the Sign of the 
Rosennary Bush 

When the cottage was originally built — about 
one hundred and thirty years ago — it was probably 
just two rooms upstairs, one going out of the 
other, and a kitchen and scullery downstairs. In 
the intervening years, however, one owner has 
added on a couple of rooms on one side, and 
another has put on two more and a pantry round 
the corner, and so on, till it is difficult to say 
exactly what type of dwelling it really is. 

There is a proper front door somewhere 
about the place, only no one ever seems to lind 
it ; the path leading to it from the main gate 
unobtrusively hides itself among the fir-trees, 
wandering round at the rear of the house, and 
under some low apple-trees — of course, no one 
who wasn't familiar with the geography of the 
estate would think of exploring such an out-of- 
the-way, narrow, grass-grown trail. No, they 
would naturally follow along the irregularly- 
flagged broad path that is kept by the handy man 
fairly free from weeds (except some httle ferns 
that will peep up at the edge, no matter what 
he does to them, and a saucy white violet that 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

has planted itself right in the very middle of the 
walk and blooms vigorously). 

Along this path most people go, whether 
they carry their best sunshade, a bead bag and 
a silver card-case, or are merely delivering two 
half-pounds of butter done up in dock leaves, and 
a cream-coloured duck wrapped up in a coarse 
white tea-cloth with his hver tucked under his 
wing, a big bunch of fresh sage stuck in his 
mouth — "and, please, mother's put in a couple 
o' onions in case you didn't happen to have 

This broad path leads to a corner in the archi- 
tectural conglomeration where there are two 
doors at right angles — one moderately respectable 
and one smaller and shabbier. If you carry a 
silver card-case, you knock at the respectable- 
looking door — which promptly admits you into 
the scullery : if you are merely someone anxious 
to dispose of a few eggs or wanting to borrow 
a little flour, you knock more humbly at the 
shabby door — to find you are battering at the 

Abigail deals with callers according to their 
status : the silver card-cases are invited, in dulcet 
tones, to retrace their steps along the broad path 
and take the narrow one to the front door. 
Sometimes they do exactly as they are told ; but 
more often, alas ! they espy yet another door, 
which they promptly make for, and this one 


At the Sign of the 
Rosemary Bush 

precipitates them right into the living-room 
and on top of me, no matter what I may be 

Inside the cottage it is a similar jumble. 
You think you have found the living-room all 
right, w^hen you come in from the garden, only 
to pull up in a large pantry, like a small room, 
with shelves full of delicious mysteries in glass 
jars and jampots and pickle bottles. 

You open a door in the living-room, thinking 
it is the one leading out into the back hall, to 
find yourself confronted with a very steep and 
narrow stone staircase, which is one way of 
getting upstairs ! Of course you get used to it 
all in a few days, and eventually cease to tumble 
down over the odd step that is obligingly placed 
here and there in dark spots, wherever the floor 
level changes in the halls or landings. But to 
those who are not native-born it is a wee bit 
confusing at first. 

The Uving-room was originally the kitchen. 
It has a large fireplace with an oven, and wide 
hobs whereon you can stand a kettle or anything 
else you want to keep hot. It has a crane, too 
— only we daren't cook our dinner in a pot 
suspended from it, because I don't want Abigail 
to give notice. We have therefore to content 
ourselves with giving the crane an occasional 


The Flow«r-Patch 
among the Hills 

The mantelpiece — of oak that is black with 
age — has two shelves, the upper one projecting 
beyond the lower, which has a frill of chintz 
beneath. Higher up still there is an ancient rack 
for holding a couple of guns, and there are cup- 
boards on each side, also of black oak, that must 
have been put there when the house was built. 

But I think the thing that delights my heart 
above everything else in this room is the huge 

When you start with a room Uke this — I 
forgot to mention that there are oak rafters, 
with hooks for home-fed hams — it is easy to 
make it cosy. The big wooden settle keeps off 
draughts, some chairs that belonged to my great- 
grandparents are far more comfortable than any- 
thing I could buy nowadays, with the wood 
worn to that smooth polish that can only be 
attained by generations of handhng. 

The oak dower chest is heavily carved, though 
its iron hinges and locks suggest a prison door 
for solidity and size ; still it is a handy receptacle 
for the miscellaneous collection of MSS. and 
papers that haunts me wherever I go I 

I do not expect everybody to admire this 
style of room. There was one caller (who came 
out of sheer curiosity) who, after gazing around 
the living-room, with manifest disapproval, at 
last said, " You really could make this into quite 
a nice little drawing-room if you had those old 


At the Sign of the 
Rosemary Bush 

rafters and beams done away with, and a proper 
ceiling put. Then you could easily have a nice 
tiled modern stove in place of that dreadfully 
old-fashioned fireplace, with those great hobs. 
And if you moved the dresser into the kitchen, 

and " So she went on, winding up with the. 

encouraging assurance, " And you would hardly 
know the place when you had got it all done." 

With one voice we said we could quite 
believe it. 

People so often fail to realise that both a 
country cottage decked out in imitation of a 
town villa, and a town villa decked out in 
imitation of a country cottage, are equally 
unsatisfying. In each case the fake and insin- 
cerity of the schemes jar. 

If it isn't bothering you too much, I should 
like you to look at the ornaments — these, as 
much as anything else, give the room its " unlike- 
ness " to anything you see in the city. Here is 
a lovely fat fish in a glass case among reeds and 
grasses. On the walls are antlers of the fallow 
deer. Then there is a framed sampler, and like- 
wise some wonderful needlework of a bygone age 
when needlework was an art. 

On the mantelpiece shelves are china cottages 
and castles, an old china miU with a wonderful 
mill stream, on which are china ducks, each the 
size of the mill-wheel ! Then Red Riding Hood, 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

in a little sprigged pinafore, carrying a dear little 
basket, and patting affectionately a most en- 
gaging, friendly-looking wolf, is always admired. 
Timothy's grandmother (a dignified - looking 
matron), teaching little Timothy out of the 
Bible, is a relic from the days when Scriptural 
subjects were among the ornaments found in 
most households. " Going to Market " and 
" Returning from Market " are a choice pair of 
china subjects, showing the lady riding behind 
her husband on a prancing steed that would do 
credit to Rotten Row. 

Mary and her little Lamb is one of the 
prettiest in the collection, only she lost one of 
her arms over fifty years ago ! There are various 
cows and sheep (some with blue ribbons round 
the neck), and other quaint china oddities. 

Then there is a beautiful hen sitting on a 
most symmetrically woven (china) straw nest 
packed full of eggs (each one, in proportion to 
the hen, is the size of an ostrich Qgg). The hen 
(eggs and all) can be lifted up, using her head, 
poor thing, as the handle, and then you find she 
is the cover to an oval dish. I always intend — 
should any members of our Royal Family get 
stranded on these hills, and drop in unexpectedly 
to tea — to serve them with a poached egg in thi . 
identical dish. 

And you must not overlook the shining brass 
candlesticks, some tall and stately, some squat, 


At the Sign of the 
Rosemary Bush 

with square trays and extinguishers, that have 
been winking and glinting in the light for a 
century now — and are still shining; nor the 
brass and horn lantern hanging from a beam. 
A lantern is an absolute necessity on these 
rugged hills when there is no moon. 

How friendly the old brass things are I Just 
look at the warming-pan with its bright sun- 
face. I have no doubt modern radiators and 
hot- water pipes are a boon to those who do not 
mind headaches and dried-up air — but do they 
look as warm and comforting as the gleaming 
warming-pan ? 

That reminds me of the first time Abigail 
came down from London. She looked at the 
warming-pan with interest, as she had never seen 
one before. The weather was cold, and hot- 
water bottles were the order of the night in 

When I returned from an evening stroll with 
some guests, she met me with an anxious face. 
" If you please, miss, will you kindly show me 
how you keep the water inside that warming- 
pan ? I can't get it to stay inside nohow when 
I start to lift it I " 

I wonder if you have ever seen a dresser like 
this one? The oak shelves forming the upper 
part are built into a deep recess in the wall, one 
above the other, up to the rafters, and all set 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

back in the thickness of the wall — and you can 
see how thick these walls are from the window- 
ledge, which is fifteen inches deep. But they 
need to be solid, for the winter storms that 
thrash across these hills show scant consideration 
for present-day building methods ; and a modern 
" bijou bungalow " would probably be found 
scattered about the next parish, if it ever lived 
long enough to get its roof on ! 

The dresser is closely hung with jugs and 
mugs and cups, willow-pattern plates and dishes 
make a good deal of white and blue against the 
walls, which are a full buttercup yellow, while 
a collection of ancient china teapots, with some 
square willow-pattern vegetable dishes and a tall 
Stilton cheese dish with two big sunflowers on 
it, occupy the wider ledge at the bottom. 

Here are some uncommon specimens of 
lustre jugs. This is a rare lustre mug, brown 
with green bars outside, and a purple band 
inside. A lustre pepper-box stands on one of 
the dresser ledges, and salt-cellars of glass, so 
heavy as to suggest paper-weights. 

Do you know the fascination of old English 
mugs ? On this dresser they range from a tiny 
mug in Rockingham ware, only an inch and 
a half high, to noble things that suggest long 
draughts of home-made herb beer ! There are 
mugs with bunches of flowers on them, others 
with conventional bands or designs, some with 


At the Sign of the 
Rosemary Bush 

landscapes, some with butterflies, some with 
words of wisdom to be imbibed by the youthful 
along with the milk. 

Jugs, again, are most alluring, once you get 
a mania for them ! One of my jugs is of brown 
earthenware, smothered with a raised design 
showing a trailing grape-vine, with big bunches 
of grapes here and there. Two other jugs that 
belonged to a bygone ancestress are apparently 
made of a white stone wall, with the most 
natural-looking ivy creeping up it and displaying 
bunches of berries. Jug-makers of the past gave 
so much interest to their goods by reason of this 
raised work, instead of being content to transfer 
a flat design as they do now. One white jug has 
ofF-standing deer around it, grazing among trees. 
Another has a hunt in full progress, horses and 
riders, dogs and all — though it always hurts me 
to see the running hare. 

A real, proper dresser is a useful bit of furni- 
ture, provided it has plenty of hooks. It holds 
such a quantity of things. I have all sorts of 
odd cups and saucers on mine, relics of past 
treasures that have somehow survived the hand 
of the hired washer-up ; httle bits that remind 
me of all sorts of pleasant things, such as tea- 
services my mother had when I was httle, some 
that have belonged to other relatives. 

In passing, I may say that a dresser of this 
sort is a great incentive to good works. Many a 

55 E 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

relation, on looking at it, has said, " / have an 
old jug that belonged to your great, no, your 
great-great-aunt ; I shall give it to you, as you 
like things of that sort." 

Or another time it will be : " What a collection 
of odd cups I Good gracious, if a little thing 
like that amuses you, I'll turn out a lot I have 
stored away somewhere, glad to get rid of them ; 
it only annoys me to look at them, as it reminds 
me how all the rest of the set got smashed. You 
can have them and welcome." 

There has been a good deal of this sort of 
"give and take" about the furnishing of this 
cottage. And it is so much more interesting to 
me as the owner to know the history of the 
various items, than if 1 had merely bought 
antiques by the houseful, as 1 have known some 
people do. In the latter case, a room is so apt 
to look hke nothing but an old curiosity shop ; 
as it is, the things all seem to " belong," just as 
much as we do. 

But I mustn't weary you with a catalogue 
of household furnishings, though I know, if you 
could actually see the china and the little bed- 
rooms, with white, washable handwork every- 
where, and wonderful old patchwork and 
knitted quilts, you would love it all. The Bird 
room is the general favourite, with its unique 
crochet ; there are swallows flying across the 


At the Sign of the 
Rosemary Bush 

curtain-tops, swans sailing among bulrushes on 
the washstand splash, wild geese flying above the 
tree-tops at another window, ducks swimming 
sedately along towel-ends, more swallows (in 
cross-stitch this time) on a table-cover, parrots 
(in darned filet) on the dressing-table cloth, while 
seagulls float along a frieze, a glass case of rare 
birds is over the mantelpiece, and a large wool- 
work pheasant, balancing itself ingeniously on the 
top of a small basket of grapes, and endeavouring 
to look as though it were quite its natural habitat, 
is framed, and hangs on the wall. I don't think 
the far-back relative who worked it had much of 
an eye for proportion, however ! 

On the mantelpiece stands a sedate row of 
china fowls, a marble fountain basin in the 
centre, with white pigeons basking around the 

Just one other room you must look into — the 
sitting-room, because 1 want you to see my dolls' 
things. Yes, I know it sounds imbecile, but I 
never had a dolls' house. When I was young, the 
rest of us were brothers, and it wasn't considered 
economical, therefore, to present a toy that would 
only be serviceable to one out of the bunch. 
Besides which, in those days children didn't 
immediately get what they stamped for. So I 
had to go without the thing I yearned for 
above all others. But you may be sure I took 

57 E 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

care of what dolls' things did chance to come 
my way. 

Dolls themselves were very scarce, but I had 
several sets of dolls' tea-things, given by dis- 
cerning aunts, and here they are, in a funny old 
glass cupboard in the corner of the sitting-room. 
One is a very small set, with teeny pink rosebuds 
on it ; another is a larger set, that my small 
friends drank tea out of (and occasionally smashed 
a cup for me). There are two dinner services, 
one in plain white — a round soup tureen, a gravy 
boat, a square vegetable dish, with some remain- 
ing plates and dishes ; the other a gorgeous aiFair, 
with Dickens scenes on each plate — one dozen 
meat and six soup plates, with dishes and tureens 
galore, and oh ! such lovely china soup and sauce 
ladles, all en suite. 

These dolls' things seem to affect people in 
different ways. Some look at them with eyes that 
go back to their own childhood, and memories that 
recall similar treasures that they wanted when 
they, too, were little, and did — or did not — get. 
Such people know exactly why I value these 
things. They handle them lovingly, but don't 
say much. 

But there are others who gaze at the dolls' 
china (and the little wooden animals, and the 
glass slipper I was certain Cinderella wore, and 
the china grand piano, and the dolls' brass fender, 
and all the other oddments), and then look at 


At the Sign of the 
Rosemary Bush 

me in blank astonishment. It is evidently 
incomprehensible to them that any sane woman, 
in these days of strenuous intellectuality, can 
hoard such childish rubbish. And I am power- 
less to explain my reasons. 

Occasionally, however, light breaks across one 
of these amazed countenances, and a woman will 
suddenly exclaim : " / have part of a dolls' dinner 
service somewhere in the attic at home, I believe. 
I shall get it out, and put it in my china cabinet. 
It looks quite smart, doesn't it ? " 

To which I reply : " Yes ; and I hear they 
are going to be much worn this season." 

All the decorations in the house are on the 
most homely lines, one room has each deep 
window-ledge filled with seashells and coral. If 
you want silver boxes and cut-glass scent-bottles 
in the bedroom, you must bring them yourself. 
We think the wooden dressing-table looks all that 
can be desired, clothed in a blue-glazed lining 
petticoat, with white dotted muslin on top. And 
who could want a silver-backed hand-glass, when 
they have the chance of using one that has its 
back encrusted with small seashells ! 

There are plenty of pictures all over the 
house, many of them without frames. Haulage 
is an expensive matter on these hills, and we 
always take this into consideration. Several of 
the rooms have friesses made of brown paper, to 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

which have been affixed a series of coloured 
plates. The charm of this arrangement is that 
you can take down the old frieze and put up a 
new one — or stick a fresh picture over some old 
one — as often as you please. 

All pictures, however, show beautiful views 
of outdoor scenery : heather-clad hills, flowering 
gardens, snow-covered peaks, and rolling waves. 
Whether they are original paintings that famous 
artists have given me, or plates from art maga- 
zines, they are all views of large spaces, and 
induce big, restful tfioughts. 

Some cards that hang on the bedroom walls 
have been singled out again and again by my 
friends for special commendation. I happened 
to see them one day when I was going round the 
Book Saloon of the R.T.S. in St. Paul's Church- 
yard. One special favourite has these lines on 
it (possibly you know them ?) : — 


Sleep sweet within this quiet room, 

Oh thou! whoe'er thou art, 
And let no mournful yesterday 

Disturb thy peaceful heart ; 
Nor let to-morrow scare thy rest 

With dreams of coming ill ; 
Thy Maker is thy changeless friend, 

His love surrounds thee still. 
Forget thyself and all the world. 

Put out each feverish light ; 
The stars are watching overhead, 
s Sleep sweet, Good Night, Good Night. 


At the Sign of the 
Rosemary Bush 

Another, bought the same day, is entitled : — 


And 80 I find it well to come 

For deeper rest to this still room ; 

For here the habit of the soul 

Feels less the outer world's control, 

And from the silence multiplied 

By these still forms on every side, 

The world that time and sense has known 

Falls off and leaves us God alone. 

For the Flower room, Canon Langbridge's 
delightful book. Restful Thoughts for Dusty 
WaySf supplied me with a verse : — 


When the world's weight is on thy mind, 
And all its black-winged fears affright, 

Think how the daisy draws her blind, 
And sleeps without a light. 

And for the Bird room, I have on the wall 
W. C. Bryant's beautiful poem, " Lines to a 
Waterfowl." You will remember these verses : — 

There is a Power whose care 
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast, 
The desert and illimitable air — 

Lone wandering, but not lost. 

He who, from zone to zone, 
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, 
In the long way that I must tread alone 

Will lead my steps aright. 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

On more than one occasion visitors have 
thanked me for having left them these good- 
night thoughts. 

Of course, being a cottage in the midst of a 
flower-patch, we never run short of flowers, and 
you find plenty indoors. When they are in 
bloom, however, I always Uke to put a bunch of 
white moss rose-buds (one of my favourite flowers) 
in a blue mug on a visitor's dressing-table. 

But whatever the flowers, it is our custom to 
welcome all guests with rosemary, for I have 
discovered that the scent of it (even the sight of 
it) is a certain cure for the divers maladies caused 
by overdoses of unsatisfactory dressmakers, cooks 
who give notice every month, much boredom in 
crowded unventilated drawing-rooms, and all the 
many varieties of restlessness that have been 
invented to help women to kill time. It has 
also been known to prove efficacious in cases of 
people prone to overwork. 

At any rate, if you come to visit me you will 
find a vase with sprigs of rosemary on the deep 
window-ledge in your room ; and few of my 
friends go away without taking a sUp from the 
gnarled bush by the door to plant in less con- 
genial surroundings. 

I belie\e Shakespeare said that rosemary 
typifies remembrance ; Virginia unblushingly 
improves on Shakespeare by insisting that it 
means the remembrance of peace. 



Miss Quirker — 


Every visit to the cottage seems prefaced 
with a scramble. Either the work at the office 
suddenly does itself up in a tangle, or the 
domestic arrangements show signs of incipient 
paralysis, which it takes all my available energy 
to avert, or else it is people who inflict them- 
selves upon me when I'm at my final gasp 
without a moment, or a single company smile, 
to spare for anybody. And of all the three 
forms of irritation, the uninvited people are the 
worst ; for they always seem to absorb the last 
bit of vitality left me, which I had hoped would 
just carry me over the journey. 

There is Miss Quirker, for instance. You 
don't know Miss Quirker ? How I envy you I 

I can best describe her as a lady well over 
forty (or more), who apparently hasn't anything 
at all to do, and who does it thoroughly well. 
She has a couple of very decided and conspicuous 
gifts — one is the ability to waste the time and 
dissipate the amiable qualities of every individual 
whose path she crosses ; and the other is a 
positive genius for saying the wrong thing. 

I was near the window writing for all I was 
worth, when she knocked at the door and inquired 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

for me, adding, "I see she is busy writing, but if 
you tell her who it is, I know she'll see me.'" Of 
course I had to see her. 

She entered the room with a kittenish little 
rush and scuffle, that is by no means the happiest 
form of affectation for a tall, largely-built woman, 
well over forty (or more). 

" Ah I I've found you in at last " (with a 
roguish wag of a stiff finger in a size too small 
glove). " I was determined to see you, dear, 
though Abigail always looks so forbidding at 
the door. I met Miss Virginia shopping just 
now, and I asked if you were at home. She 
said you were frightfully busy, nearly off your 
head with work, as you were leaving town the 
first thing in the morning. So I said at once : 
Then of course I must go round and call on 
her this very afternoon. 

** She said she wasn't sure that you'd be in if 
I did, but I said I should chance it — it's such 
an age since we've met — why, not since your 
engagement was announced I Now, just give 
me an account of yourself, and tell me all about 

•* I would have asked Miss Virginia, but 1 
never think she is at all cordial, or perhaps 
I should say — sympathetic. Indeed, I don't think 
she really knew me at first. I was right in her 
path, yet she seemed to look through me ! But 
I took a seat next to her at the lace counter, 


Miss Quirker — 

and spoke to her. By the way, is she deaf ? It 
was so strange that she didn't seem to hear a 
quarter of the questions I asked her about you, 
so I really got next to no information from her. 
It was so funny sometimes that I almost laughed 
— I've such a sense of humour, you know. For 
instance, when I asked her what she thought of 
your fiancS (you know you've never introduced 
me to him yet !) and was it her idea of a suitable 
match, and was he tall or short, she replied : 
* I think it wonderful value considering, and it 
should wear well; the size is five yards round, 
so I had better have six yards to allow for 
corners.' And, do you know, I was some minutes 
before I reahsed that she wasn't talking about 
his waist measure, but an afternoon tea-cloth for 
which she was buying the lace. She evidently 
hadn't heard a word I had said. And so I raised 
my voice and asked her what part he had come 
from, as I knew he didn't go to our church. She 
just looked at me and replied : ' Cluny ; I always 
think Cluny lace washes so well, don't you ? ' 

" You see, I got absolutely nothing out of her. 
In fact, I wondered, dear, whether — of course, I 
know you don't mind me speaking quite frankly 
— whether there had been any little rift — er — 
you understand ; of course I know you've a 
wonderful fund of patience, only those two girls 
always seem to be with you, and though I'm 
sure you wouldn't tell them so, yet anyone with 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

the very slightest tact might see that they aren't 
wanted. And of course .... 

" Oh, well, I'm glad to hear you do think as 
much of them as ever. I shouldn't have thought 
it ; but you needn't mind telling me if there had 
been a little coolness. I'm fairly sharp at seeing 
through a stone wall. And I always have said 
that — personally, mind you — I never knew two 
girls less .... 

" Of course, we won't discuss them if you'd 
rather not. As you know, I am the very last 
one to want to introduce a disagreeable topic. 
We'll talk about you. Turn round to the light, 
and let me see how you are looking. My dear I 
but you do look ill 1 I I don't know ichen I've 
seen you look so utterly washed out and 
anaemic. . . . 

" You never felt better in your life ? Well, 
I'm glad to hear it, I'm sure. Oh, I see what it 
is, it's that blue dress you are wearing that gives 
you that aged and sallow look^a very trying 
colour, isn't it ? I don't think anyone ought to 
wear that colour, but those with very clear 
young-looking complexions, and then it looks 
charming. It always suited me. By the way, 
did Madame Delphine make that dress ? . . . I 
thought so, I knew it the minute I saw you. 
It's a queer thing, but I have never yet seen 
anyone look even passable in a dress that she 
has made. You can't exactly say that it doesn't 


Miss Quirker— 

fit, can you ? It's a something — I don't know 
how to express it — about her gowns that always 
strikes me as — well, you know what I mean, 
don't you ? And that dress you've got on looks 
just like that ! 1 know you won't mind me 
speaking quite plainly ; you see, I've known you 
for so long, and I'm not one to flatter, I never 
was. What we need in this world is absolute 
sincerity; don't you agree with me? And I 
always think it's the kindest thing when you see 
a friend in anything that makes her look plainer 
than ever, to tell her so at once, then she knows 
just exactly what she looks like. And, after all, 
other people are the best judges as to what suits 
us. We can't see ourselves. Mrs. Ridley was 
saying at the Guild ' At Home ' at the Arch- 
deacon's the other day, she thought you were 
so wise to stick to that way you do your hair ; 
she said she thought it suited you, considering 
that . . . ." 

Here I did manage to interpolate a sarcastic 
regret that they couldn't find a more interesting 
topic of conversation ! 

'• Oh, yes, we had other more interesting 
things to talk about, dear, but Mrs. Archdeacon 
had your photo on the table, and the Archdeacon 
said something about you, I forget what — nothing 
of any importance — and that was the only reason 
we mentioned you. I said I thought perhaps 
you did it that way because it was a little thin 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

just there. . . . Oh, I know you used to have a 
lot of hair, dear ; but some people's hair does 
come out, and a pad doesn't look so well any- 
where else. . . . 

" It's all your own hair ? You don't wear 

Well, I am surprised 1 1 should never have 
thought it 1 1 I don't mean that it looks much 
in any case, but I always concluded that you 

*' Oh, how delightful ! I'll confess I was 
longing for a cup of tea. . . . Yes, three lumps 
and plenty of milk. I always say it makes up 
for any deficiencies in the tea, if one has lots of 
milk. . . . China tea, is it ? I thought so. I 
dare say it's all right for those who Hke it. And, 
of course, if you tell people what it is, they 
understand why it looks so poor. . . . 

" On no account ; don't think of having some 
Indian tea made specially for me. I can quite 
well make this do, because I'm going straight 
home after I leave you, and tea will be waiting 
for me, and I shall have a good cup first 
thing. . . . 

" Yes, I think I will have another sandwich, 
even though it is the third time of asking. These 
make me think of the Guild *At Home' last 
week. You ought to have been there. The 
Archdeacon makes such a delightful host and 
the sandwiches 1 — well, I can't tell you what they 
were like ; literally hundreds and hundreds of 


Miss Quirker — 

them, and such delicious filling ; all cut in their 
own kitchen, too. You really should get Mrs. 
Archdeacon to tell you what her cook put in 
them ; you'd never touch one of these ordinary 
ones again, once you had tasted hers. 

" But what I would like to know is, what 
does she do with all the crusts ? Mrs. Ridley 
thought that perhaps they made them up into 
savoury puddings ; only, as I said to her : How 
about those with fish in them ? She said that 
perhaps they kept them separate when cutting ; 
but I know the shuffling ways of cooks better than 
that ! I never kept one, and I never will. . . . 

" I must certainly try the cake if you made 
it yourself. I seldom get time to do any cooking 
myself, though I'm a very good hand at cakes. 
But you've secretaries to take everything off 
your hands ; you must have lots of spare time." 

(A moment's pause while she tries the cake.) 

" Have you ever used the Busy Bee Flour 
Sifter ? No ? Then I should strongly advise 
you to get one. I should think that might help 
you to make a lighter cake ; or do you think 
you put in enough baking powder ? But there, 
some people have a light hand with cakes, and 
some haven't. I don't think anything makes 
any difference if you haven't. It's just Uke 
plants, isn't it — they always grow well for those 
who love them. Your ferns aren't looking very 
bright, are they ? . . . 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

" Oh, don't you like the ends of the fronds 
rubbed ? . . . I see, they were given you by 
your fiancd, and naturally they are the apple of 
your eye. That reminds me, you haven't shown 
me his portrait yet. I'm longing to see it. . . . 

" Is that the gentleman ! Well ! he's the very 
last man in the world I should have chosen for 
you I Not a bit like what I pictured. . . . 

"No, I don't mean that there's anything 
wrong with him, only — er — he doesn't look a 
scrap Hke the man you would become engaged 
to. . . . 

" W^ell, I don't know that I can exactly 
describe the type of man I expected. I thought 
he would be tall and 

" He is ? Over six feet ? Well, he doesn't 
look it from his photo, does he ? . . . 

" That's true ; a vignetted head doesn't show 
the full height. But apart from that, I expected 
an artistic sort of man. . . . 

" He is ? Really ! And then I should have 
pictured him rather — er — well, Napoleonic, and 
with that far-away poetic fire in his eyes that 
carries you off your feet to untold heights. . . . 

" No, of course I don't mean an aviator 1 I 
mean a — but it isn't easy to put it into words ; 
only you can't think how disap — how surprised 
I am to see a little man. . . . 

*' Of course, I remember you did say he was 
tall and well made. But there, handsome is as 


Miss Quirker— 

handsome does ; and, after all, I've heard that it 
is often the plainest and most uninteresting- 
looking men that turn out the best in the end. 

I can only hope that it will be so in your 

" Why, I declare ! Here's Miss Virginia ! 
How d'y'do ? We've been talking about you 
all the afternoon. Well, I really must be going, 
and I simply won't listen to any of your per- 
suasions to stay longer. I've brightened her up 
nicely. Miss Virginia ; she was looking ever so 
gloomy when I called. Good-bye, dear. Good- 

bye, Miss Virginia." ^ . ,^. ^ . , 

iLiXit Miss Lluirker. 

What we said after she had gone had better 
not be recorded ! My own remarks may not 
have been quite cordial ; but I know that Vir- 
ginia's were even worse — if that were possible. 

But though visitations such as these, when 
bestowed upon me at the eleventh hour, always 
reduce me mentally to a sort of bran-mash (and 
Virginia says she can't see why anybody need 
bother a government to import pulp nowadays, 
considering the state of her brain, to say nothing 
of those of other people who shall be nameless), 
the sight of the garden makes me human once 
more, and by sunset the silence of the hills 
has so restored my soul, that the sun seldom, 
if ever, goes down upon my wrath. 

After tea, there will probably be two hours 
71 F 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

of daylight for watering the garden. Even 
though the sun has dropped behind the opposite 
hills, it is light up here on the hill-top long after 
the valley has gone to sleep ; and when the sun 
has really set, there is a long and lovely twilight. 

Indoors and out there is absolute peace. 
The grandfather's clock ticks with that slow 
deliberation that is so soothing ; even the 
preliminary rumble it gives before striking is 
never irritating — you feel it is a concession due 
to advanced age. 

Through the open window float in the scents 
of thousands of flowers that are feeling unspeak- 
ably grateful for the liberal watering the girls 
have been giving them ; you cannot distinguish 
any one in particular ; one moment you think 
it is the sweet briar, then you are sure it is the 
white lilies, then the breeze brings the breath 
of the honeysuckles that are climbing trees and 
hedges, till the whole air is laden with perfume. 

Up the garden white dresses are seen among 
the borders. 

" There, I believe we've done everything but 
that upper bed of hollyhocks, and they won't 
hurt for to-night." Virginia sounds as though 
she had been working hard. 

" Now the tent," calls out Ursula. And we 
all make a stampede to the bottom of the lower 
orchard, and with a few dexterous turns the 
tent is down and folded up ; for though the trees 


Miss Quirker— 

may be motionless now, the wind springs up at 
any moment on these hills, and once you hear it 
soughing in the tops of the big fir-trees in the 
garden you will realise the advantage of having 
the tent indoors ! 

As you saunter up the garden, back to the 
house, crushing the sweet-odoured black pepper- 
mint in the grass underfoot, the stars seem very 
near. The cottage looks like a toy, with the 
Ught shining from each little window. And as 
you cross the threshold into the living-room, the 
log fire flashes and gleams (a fire is acceptable 
up here after sundown, even in the summer), 
and everything smiles with such a cosy welcome, 
till brass candlesticks and cups and jugs and the 
homely willow patterns on the dresser, all seem 
to say, " We are so glad you've come." 

73 F 2 


The Geography of 

the Flower-Patch 

The first night at this cottage you may lie 
awake, if you are a stranger to these hills, almost 
awed by the silence. Gradually you realise that 
the silence is not actual absence of sound. In 
May and early June the nightingales trill in the 
trees around ; or you will hear the owls calling 
to one another in the woods — a trifle weird if 
you do not know what it is. At another time 
it is the corn-crake ; or the wind brings you the 
bleating of lambs down in the valley. As you 
listen longer, you hear the tinkle, tinkle of the 
little spring that tumbles out of a small spout 
into a ferny well outside the garden gate. 

You take a final look out of the window to 
where, miles away in the distance, a lighthouse 
flashes at fixed intervals. It seems strangely 
companionable, even though it is so far off. 
And then you close your eyes — unconscious that 
you have fallen asleep — only to open them again 
in a minute, as you think. Someone is speaking. 

You detect Ursula's voice in a stage whisper 
through the keyhole. 

" I say — aren't you ever going to get up ? " 

You rub your eyes. It certainly is morning ! 
And you such a poor sleeper, possibly one of 
those who " never had a wink of sleep all night, 


The Geography of 
the Flower-Patch 

and such horrid dreams." The plaintive voice 
continues at the keyhole : 

" I planted out nine hundred and thirty-seven 
wallflower seedlings yesterday, and I want to 
cover them up with fern before the sun gets 
too strong. If you'll get up you can gather 
the bracken, while I creep around on all fours 
covering them up. See ? Virginia is busy 
thinning out the turnips. And SHE is never 
any good at getting up early, you know ! " 

I regret to say this last scornful reference is^ 
to me ! 

And now when you look out of the little 
bedroom window again, to the accompaniment 
of an early cup of tea, what a change has taken 
place since yesterday ! Last night the ranges of 
opposite hills, with the sun setting behind them, 
looked vague and mysterious with shadows. 
This morning the sun is full on them, but now 
there is another mystery — or so it seems to those 
who see it for the first time. 

Instead of looking down into the green tree- 
clad valley to where the river winds along at the 
base of the steep hills, you now look down on to 
a bank of solid white — the mist that rises up 
at night and fills the lower part of the valley, 
reminding one of the mist that went up from 
the earth in the first Garden, " and watered the 
whole face of the ground." 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

With the sun on it, the mist gives back a 
dazzhng Ught. And then slowly, slowly, the 
whole white bank in the valley lifts silently and 
wonderfully ; up and up it goes in a solid mass, 
and as the higher parts of the hills, which were 
previously in sunshine, are temporarily hidden 
by the uprising mass, so the lower part of the 
valley gradually becomes visible, first only a strip 
at the very bottom, then more and more as the 
white curtain is raised. Finally the white mass 
disappears and joins its fellows in the sky above, 
a fragment of cloud lingering sometimes a little 
below the summit of the highest hill. If the 
day is going to be fine, this last trail of silvery 
cloud disappears, and then the sun lights up the 
woods and the upland meadows, showing you 
distant cottages and far-off farmhouses where 
you saw nothing but tremulous shadows the 
night before. 

However often one looks upon this sight, the 
marvel never lessens, and the " simple scientific 
explanation," which every learned person who 
visits this cottage pours over the breakfast-table, 
is quite unnecessary. Scientific explanations are 
admirable for cities, but when we set foot on 
these hills, it is just sufficient for us that Nature 
" is." 

One drawback about this cottage is the fact 
that one's poetic thoughts and soulful dreams 


The Geography of 
the Flower-Patch 

are constantly being interrupted by things 
material, more especially those appertaining to 
food ! And even as you are gazing out of the 
window at the glorious scenery all around you, 
there arises the odour of frizzling ham (that 
originally ran about, uncooked, in a field lower 
down), fried potatoes (the good old-fashioned 
sort done in the frying-pan), coffee, and other 
hungry things ; and you find to your surprise 
that a substantial breakfast is on the table by 
eight o'clock, though (and this is where guests 
bless their hostess) no one need get up to break- 
fast, if they prefer to have it in bed, for very 
tired people come here sometimes. 

But it does not matter what nervous wrecks 
Virginia and Ursula may have landed at the 
door overnight, the first morning sees them up 
with the lark and out gardening ; and one of the 
earliest sounds you hear is the clink of the brown 
pitcher on the stones, as Virginia sets it down 
after filling it at the little spring outside the 
garden gate. This is a thirsty garden ; it is 
everywhere on the slope, remember, and is com- 
posed of the lightest soil imaginable with rock 
everywhere beneath. As fast as you put water 
on it, it runs away downhill ; hence, a moment's 
leisure, morning or evening, always means some 
pitchers of water for the garden. 

All the cottages on the hillside seem to have 
been built in the same way. Someone evidently 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

hunted about for a few feet of land where it was 
shghtly less sloping than the rest, and within 
reach of a spring of water, and this plot he 
levelled a bit by excavating the big boulders and 
smaller stones which make up our substratum, 
and often the top-stratum too. Then if the piece 
of land wasn't quite large enough, he cut away 
part of the hill behind, banking it up with some 
of the biggest of the boulders, to keep it from 
tumbhng down on to the piece he had cleared. 

Next he excavated more rocky pieces from 
the up-and-down land around his clearing ; this 
gave him a bit of clean ground for a garden, and 
also provided him with enough stone to build his 
habitation. Any stone he might have over he 
made into a wall around his plot, by the simple 
process of piling one piece on top of another. 
That, apparently, is all man does to the place. 
Then Nature sets to work ; and, oh, what festoons 
of loveliness she flings over all ! 

As several different owners have had a hand 
at my particular cottage, the garden has been 
extended in various directions, but always re- 
quiring stone walls to prop it up. Hence you 
get a moderately level patch, with a drop of 
four or six feet over the edge of the garden-bed. 

A few rough stone steps take you down to 
the next level, where there is another bit of 
garden, the steps themselves sprouting in every 
chink, with wild strawberry, primroses, ferns, 


The Geography of 
the Flower-Patch 

columbines, and a stray Canterbury bell. In 
this way the cottage is surrounded with steps 
going up or going down, with a flower-bed 
running along here, and some more a few feet 
lower down ; another terrace of flowers and 
some more steps (nearly smothered with big 
periwinkle, these are) take you down to an 
absurd lawn, that some enterprising person 
levelled up so delightfully on the tilt that 
neither chair nor table will remain where you 
place it I If they roll far enough, they go over 
the edge of the lawn, a drop of about twenty 
feet, into the lower orchard ! Nevertheless, this 
lawn is popular, because it is edged at one side 
with white and pink moss rose-trees. 

Thus perhaps you can picture it — big beds 
and little beds, some running one way, some 
spreading out in another direction ; sometimes 
large patches where flowers grow by the quarter- 
acre ; sometimes Httle scraps and corners no 
bigger than a hearth-rug, where we managed to 
dig out some more stones, and make a further 
bit of clearing. But everywhere you go there 
are the big plateaux or httle terraces supported 
by massive grey stone walls, which vary from 
two to twenty feet in height, according to the 
amount of hillside they are required to prop 

And how these walls bloom ! Ivy and moss 
and ferns seem to love them, for all the local walls 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

sprout ferns without any apparent provocation, 
and the walls about this garden are no exception. 

But, in addition, white arabis hangs over in 
cascades, in the spring, and you see then why 
the country people call it " Snow-on-the-Moun- 
tains " ; and mingling with the white is the 
exquisite mauve variety ; wallflowers of lovely 
colouring, rose pink, deep purple, pale primrose, 
bright orange, as well as the richly-streaked 
brown-and-yellow flowers, bloom gaily on the 
rocky ledges; snapdragons flower later, with 
nasturtiums, and even some blue-eyed forget-me- 
nots have sown themselves up there, and bloom 
with the rest. Honesty plants have established 
themselves in the crevices ; masses of wild Herb 
Robert have been allowed to remain ; and 
carpeting everything are all manner of sedums, 
and Alpine and ice plants, some with grey-green 
foUage and ruby-coloured stems, some with 
white flowers, some with crimson ; and in the 
hottest places there are clumps of houseleeks 
looking sturdy and homely. 

Certain weeks in the year the tops of some of 
the walls are a golden mass when the yellow 
stonecrop is in bloom ; but whatever the season, 
there is always something to look at — something 
holding up a brave head and preaching as loudly 
as ever a plant can preach of the advantages of 
making the best of your surroundings. 

Does the wall face a sunless north? Very 

The Geography of 
the Flower-Patch 

well ; out come the ferns and up creeps the ivy ; 
the Rock Stonecrop, with its blue-green stems 
and leaves (looking almost like a huge moss) fills 
every shady spot it can find, seemingly appearing 
from nowhere. 

Is the wall sunny ? All right ; the wallflowers 
laugh at you, pinks climb over the top edge, just 
to see what is going on down below ; one baking 
spot supports a mass of sage about a yard and a 
half in diameter, a smother of blue flowers in the 
summer ; no one planted it, it just came ! A 
red ribis has hooked itself in at one spot ; what 
it lives on I don't know ; while white, mauve and 
purple Honesty seeds itself everywhere, making 
a brave show of colour in the spring. In fact, 
white and mauve are the prevailing colours on 
the walls in April. 

Later on you may expect — and will find — 
anything ; for annuals and bi-annuals seed them- 
selves, continually dropping the seed to a lower 
level ; hence there is always a self-planted garden 
bed at the base of each wall, reminiscent of what 
was growing above the season before. 

On the shady side of one waU, we have made 
a moss garden — it was Virginia's idea, and she 
takes a very special pride in it, adding new sorts 
whenever she finds them. Hence you wiU some- 
times find her coming home from a ramble, 
carrying a huge stone with her, or lugging along 
a veritable boulder. In this way she brings the 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

moss home, local habitation and all, annexing 
any stone she sees (a wild stone, of course, not 
a tame one from someone's garden wall) that 
bears a promising crop of some new variety. 

As a result, she fairly bulges with pride when- 
ever she exhibits the moss garden, and explains 
how much of it is her own particular handiwork. 

We have not yet settled whether she ought 
to pay me rent for my wall that she uses for her 
moss garden, or I ought to pay her wages for 
moss-gardening my wall. 

One characteristic of this garden is an ever- 
changing show of colour. It varies according to 
the season, but whatever the time of year there 
are usually gorgeous splashes of colour that 
make you stand and wonder. 

Do not forget that this is only a cottage 
garden, even though it is a roomy one. I hope 
you are not picturing to yourself an orthodox 
country-house garden, with expanses of well-kept 
lawns, with proper-looking beds of geraniums, 
and lordly pampas grass at intervals, and well- 
groomed rose-bushes in tidy beds, and correct 
herbaceous borders, and beds of begonias and 
heliotropes planted out from the greenhouses, 
and all the other nice-mannered, polite flowers 
that every well-paid, certificated gardener con- 
scientiously insists on planting in exactly the 
same way all the country over. 

This garden grows a little of everything, and 

The Geography of 
the Flower-Patch 

a great deal of some things, and when you look 
at it you might easily imagine that everything 
had planted itself just where it pleased. The 
garden is not tidy, for the things are constantly 
growing over each other, and then out across 
the paths. Moreover, it lacks someone there all 
the time to keep it tidy ; the ministrations of 
the handy man are decidedly erratic. But at 
least it is bright, always bright, and you can 
pick as many flowers as you please — handfuls, 
armfuls, apronfuls — with no fear of an autocratic 
gardener glaring at you ; and the flowers will 
never be missed. 

In the spring wallflowers predominate, every 
colour that the modern varieties produce. 
Ursula's remark that she had planted over nine 
hundred seedlings was well within the mark. A 
thousand or two of wallflower seedlings do not 
go very far in this garden, because at one time 
of the year the place appears to be a waving 
mass of wallflowers from end to end. 

And have you any idea what the scent is 
like when you have thousands of wallflowers 
smiling on a sunny spring morning ? 

But there are all sorts of oddments, some 
things you do not expect and some things you 
do. The cowslip bed is very pretty. Here are 
yellow, orange, copper-coloured and mahogany 
brown cowslips ; pale-coloured oxlips, and poly- 
anthuses in as many shades as the wallflowers, 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

from rosy red to dark purple-brown with every 
petal edged with bright yellow as though they 
had been buttonholed round. 

There is no need to cultivate primroses in 
the garden beds, for the two orchards are thick 
with them ; where there are also large patches of 
wild snowdrops with crowds of wild daffodils, 
and dancing wind-flowers — or wood anemones ; 
while tall spikes of the pale mauve spotted orchises 
grow in the grass around the edge near the walls. 

Before the wallflowers have finished flowering 
the tuUps are out, the old-fashioned " cottage 
tulips," many of them, tall and with large cup- 
Uke flowers — pink and crimson, brown and 
yellow, showy "parrots," and delicate mauve 
feathered with white, purple-black, deep maroon ; 
such a brilliant army those tulips make, with 
hundreds of them in bloom at once. 

Before the tulip petals have fallen, the peonies 
have opened out great heavy heads of flowers 
that can't keep upright. The scarlet oriental 
poppies with their blue-black centres make masses 
of colour that have to be kept very much to 
themselves or they kill every other flower within 
reach ; these are therefore planted near the 
clumps of white irises, and the deep blue and 
pure white perennial lupins, that make a 
beautiful show all down one border. 

Speaking of lupins reminds me of the tree- 
lupins. Virginia brought some harmless-looking 


The Geography of 
the Flower-Patch 

little plants with her one year, remembering my 
love for lupins. 

" These are tree-lupins," she said. " I'm sure 
I don't know what they will grow into, but the 
man said they were just like lupins, only much 
more so ; therefore I bought them. Don't blame 
me if they die." 

She planted them comfortably and cosily in 
a bed along with white foxgloves and pink pent- 
stemons, all the members of this happy family 
looking about the same size. 

The following year when Virginia visited the 
cottage she asked, " Where are my tree-lupins ? " 
She was shown great bushes each the size of a 
round dining-table, and each holding aloft hun- 
dreds of yellow spikes, and filling the air with 
the scent of a bean-field. There were the tree- 
lupins all right ! But where were the foxgloves 
and pentstemons ? 

Perhaps you think there must be large, dull 
spaces when the wallflowers cease blooming, 
but in between the wallflower plants are others 
coming on, and by the time the wallflowers have 
finished — and are ready to be pulled up — these 
beds are filling with sweet williams and snap- 
dragons. The young plants were there, and 
they come into bloom as the wallflowers finish. 
And then, where only a short time before there 
were beds all purples and yellows and browns, 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

you have now reds and pinks and every shade 
of rosy tint that the bright eyes of the sweet 
wilHams can produce. 

The snapdragons once played a joke on the 
garden. I was ordering some seeds from Sutton's, 
and said, " I want some very hardy snapdragons, 
that will stand being planted in the windiest part 
of the garden where nothing of any height will 
grow." The seeds were guaranteed to grow in 
the most uprooting of hurricanes. 

In due time the seedlings appeared above 
ground, and Ursula devoted several back-aching 
evenings to planting them out into the wind- 
swept beds. By the middle of the following 
summer those jaunty snapdragons had each 
grown six feet high, and there, waving in that 
exposed place, where any well-conducted plant 
would have sternly refused to grow more than 
a foot high, was a plantation of great flowers, 
each tied to a stout stake like hollyhocks, and 
the blooms seemed to have outgrown their 
normal size just as the rest of the plants had 

Of course, people came from ever so far to 
gaze at these snapdragons ; and unbelievers 
surreptitiously pulled out tape-measures and 
two-foot rules, and one and all, after meditating 
seriously on the subject, and looking at it from 
all points of view, would finally shake their heads 
and say, " Well, I'll just tell you what it is — the 


The Geography of 
the Flower-Patch 

place evidently suits them." We never got any 
further than that ! 

By every law and reason known to properly- 
trained gardeners and horticulturists, this garden 
ought to be able to produce nothing but low- 
growing flowers and shrubs. Every local resident 
kindly volunteered this information directly he 
or she set eyes on the cottage ; they said it was 
too high up, too bleak in winter, too exposed, too 
dry, too rocky, or too glaringly sunny — for any- 
thing above six inches high to have a chance 
in it. 

And yet Nature goes on laughing at the 
pessimists, and so do those who tend this flower- 
patch. And the columbines, yellow, pink, pale 
blue, purple, and white, send up tall heads of 
flower. The coreopsis plants grow so big and 
bushy they have to be staked. The cornflowers, 
a streak of blue at the end of the cabbage bed, 
are taller than the broad beans adjoining. Then 
there are the hollyhocks and the larkspurs — these 
hold their heads as high as anyone could desire, 
and the tall red salvias are not far behind. The 
foxgloves are also a brave sight (though I do not 
include in this category those that are buried 
under the tree-lupins !). 

Of course, there are low-growing things in the 
garden as well as the more lofty-minded. There 
is one bed that is a ramping mass of giant 
mimulus of various colours. Convolvulus minor 

d,7 G 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

spreads about the ground in one of the white lily 
beds ; and eschscholtzias cover the earth for 
another row of lilies. Pansies rove about at their 
own sweet will in this garden, and the old- 
fashioned white pinks and the pink variety spread 
themselves out over the big stones that edge the 

The mignonette bed has a row of lavenders 
at the side, and mounds of nasturtiums grow 
where the earth is too rocky and barren to 
support anything else. 

Naturally, there are hedges of sweet peas; 
sometimes they are heavy with flowers, some- 
times the slugs or birds settle the matter at the 
beginning of the season. One hedge runs along 
at the back of the herb garden, and the herbs 
have so spread themselves out that the sweet 
peas were getting swamped. Virginia has been 
cutting them back. 

Do you know what the scent of cut herbs is 
like on a hot summer day, with sweet peas in the 
background ? In this herb garden there is sage, 
with its lovely blue flowers, lemon thyme, silver 
thyme, savory, hyssop, lavender, rosemary, rue, 
balm, marjoram, black peppermint, spearmint 
and parsley. 

In this bed also grows the old-time bergamot, 
with its heavily-scented leaves and lovely tufts of 
crimson flowers. 

But though one part of the garden is set 

The Geography of 
the Flower-Patch 

apart for herbs and another for vegetables, you 
must not imagine that they are only to be found 
there. Fine clumps of parsley have planted 
themselves in among the annual larkspurs ; mint 
persists in running riot among the pink and 
white mallows (but the mint family never re- 
mains quietly at home) ; a sturdy scarlet runner 
comes up, year after year, beside a great bush of 
gum cistus, which makes me think it might be 
treated as a perennial ; it seems impossible to 
get the artichokes to part company with the 
Michaelmas daisies, while raspberry canes shoot 
up among the old-fashioned red fuchsia bushes ; 
radishes are flourishing like the green bay-tree 
underneath the sweetbriar ; a regiment of 
pickling onions is living on most neighbourly 
terms with a row of cup-and-saucer Canterbury 
bells ; and as for rhubarb — well, what can you 
expect when one man, whom I employed for a 
brief spell, remarked : 

" You'll see where I've put in that thur special 
rubbub, miss, because I've planted a traveller's 
joy a- top of he to mark the spot." 

Cupid's Border is another section of this 
garden that may interest you. Here you natur- 
ally find Love-in-a-mist and Love-lies-bleeding. 
The flowers which the country folks call Love- 
lockets dangle pink and white from their graceful 
curving stems ; (alas, in catalogues and places 

89 G 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

where they know, this plant is merely regarded 
as dielytra). In this border you of course find 
forget-me-nots " that grow for happy lovers " ; 
bachelor's buttons, too, hold up their heads in a 
very sprightly manner, and please notice that 
they are getting nearer and nearer to the clump 
of Sweet Betsy. But the bachelor's buttons 
have a rival, for the other side of Sweet Betsy 
stands lad's love — and though not so showy as 
the bachelor's buttons, lad's love claims to be 
of more soHd worth. I leave them to settle the 
matter between themselves, however; I'm not 
one to interfere in such affairs. 

At the other side of the border stands a 
maiden's blush rose, and gallantly waving beside 
it is a clump of Prince's Feather (sometimes re- 
ferred to in common parlance as " they lay lock 
bushes"). At the edge of the border you 
naturally find heartsease, not the stiff, over- 
developed article of modern flower-shows, but 
the old-fashioned sort, all streaks and splashes of 
rich purple and yellow. 

There is no time now to go round the vege- 
table garden — not that this can be regarded as 
an entirely separate part of the estate, for the 
vegetables have got mixed up in a terribly hap- 
hazard way with the rest of things, as I hinted 
just now. The potato-plot, for instance, has a 
border of golden wallflowers all round and 
double daisies at the edge, with a row of giant 


The Geography of 
the Flower-Patch 

sunflowers, hollyhocks, and clumps of honesty at 
the back. 

This mixture is partly in the nature of a 
compromise. The gentleman who wields the 
spade has to be taken into account. No matter 
who he is, no matter how often he discharges 
me and I have to beg yet someone else to 
"oblige" me, it is always the same, the tiller 
of the soil regards space given over to flowers 
as a grievous waste, not to say an indication of 
feeble-mindedness I Therefore he inserts a row 
of vegetables or seeds whenever I happen to 
have cleared out some flowering plants and left 
a morsel of space pro tern. It seems a prevailing 
idea among the non-qualified working classes, in 
rural districts, that the cultivation of flowers 
ranks about on a level with doing the washing — 
work derogatory to a man and only fit for 
women ! 

To the credit of the handy man I must say 
that on one occasion he did kindly present me 
with a load of pig manure. He put it on the 
flower garden the day before we arrived, as a 
pleasant surprise, which it certainly was ! Next 
day we all had relatives with broken legs, who 
needed our immediate return to town. 

Nevertheless the vegetables play their part, 
and assume no small importance, in due course ; 
for it is another unwritten law of this cottage 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

that visitors shall go out and select the day's 
vegetables, and cut them with the dew on ; of 
course, if they are superlatively lazy, they can 
meanly get some early riser to do it for them ; 
also they can confer together, or each can gather 
her own choice. 

Hence you will see Virginia or Ursula in a 
large hat that is all brim, with basket on arm, 
and wearing an apron (not a lacy, frilly muslin 
thing, but a good-sized, well-made, old-fashioned 
lilac print apron), going up the garden and 
gathering broad beans, cutting young cauli- 
flowers, or " curly greens," or turnip tops, or 
a marrow, forking up potatoes, pulling carrots, 
collecting lettuces, spring onions, cress and other 
salading — all according to the season. 

And if it should chance that you have never 
yourself put on a big apron, and cut your own 
vegetables before the dew is off them, then 
Virginia will be truly sorry for you. 

There is plenty of time to be lazy, however ; 
and a hot summer day means long leisure in this 
garden; for when the sun is high the brown 
pitcher rests (though the brown teapot does not) 
until the fir-trees throw shadows from the west. 

All day you can sit in the shade at the 
bottom of the garden, looking up the hill at 
the wonderful mass of colour before you. Along 
the ridge of the cottage roof perches a row of 


The Geography of 
the Flower-Patch 

swallows, chirping and chattering in their usual 
way. The starlings, who have built under the 
tiles, are ordering their respective famiUes to 
cease clamouring for more, explaining that 
hunting caterpillars is hot work. Most other 
birds are quiet when the sun is fiercest, but over 
all the garden there is the hum, hum of thousands 
of industrious bees, while literally hundreds of 
white butterflies keep up a perpetual flutter over 
the tall blue spikes of bloom on the lavender 

Even the small white dog with the brown 
ears ceases to tear about the garden, and bark 
at nothing in a consequential way ; he just lies 
down on the edge of somebody's dress, and hangs 
out a little pink tongue for air. 

This is the time when the flower-patch among 
the hills spells Rest. 

An old woman passing up the lane a few nights 
ago paused at the gate. " How them pinnies 
do blow, miss ! " she said, gazing admiringly 
at a clump of peonies. Then she added — 

" Ain't it strange, now, that it do take a 
woman to make a flower garden ? A man ain't 
no good at that ; he simply can't help hisself 
a-running to veg'tables ! " 

But after thinking this over, and despite all 
that strong-minded womankind tells me to the 
contrary, I cannot really beUeve that there is 
such total depravity in the other sex ! 



That Jane Price! 

When Abigail announced, "Mrs. Price says 
can you spare a minute to see her, please, 
ma'am," you would have known by the toss of 
her nose that the lady-caller was not very nearly 
related to the aristocracy. 

As a matter of fact, Mrs. Price, or "that 
Jane Price," as she is more usually styled, is 
held in no great esteem in our village. Yet 
everything is said to fulfil some useful purpose, 
and if Mrs. Price does nothing else, at least she 
and her family serve as conspicuous moral 
warnings and give us something to throw up 
our hands about at intervals, when we exclaim : 

" Did you ever ! ! " 

She is a widow of ample and well-fed pro- 
portions, owning her cottage, some bees and a 
pig, and apparently getting a fairly good living 
out of doing remarkably little sewing. If, under 
a mistaken sense of duty, you strive to encourage 
local industry, and seek to engage her services, 
she has to consider before she consents to under- 
take the bit of sewing you offer her to do, at 
three times the amount you would have to pay 
for having it done in town. And as often as 
not she replies that she " really can't oblige you " 
this time, as she's got a " spell " on cruel bad, 


Jane Price ! 

that has gone all down her back to her knees, 
making her head feel nohow. 

You turn away not even worried about her 
condition, since she seems as cheerful as a daisy 
and as comfortably complacent as a cow. And 
you also know, even though you may have been 
acquainted with the lady only a few months, 
that however cruel the spell may be, and 
however long it may last and prevent her 
working, her children will be some of the most 
elaborately dressed in the Sunday school, and 
from the cottage door there will radiate the 
most appetising of odours as regularly as the 
mealtimes come round. 

How it is that she manages to do so well 
with so little visible means of subsistence, only a 
stranger would stop to inquire. The residents 
know only too well that her pockets are large ; 
that the shawl she invariably wears on weekdays 
has voluminous folds ; that her carrying and 
stowing-away capacity is almost worthy of a 
professional conjurer. Kleptomania (to give it 
as refined a name as we can) is her besetting sin. 
Unfortunately her family follow in her footsteps. 

Mrs. Price seems to have a positive gift for 
turning everything to profitable account ; and 
her methods of raising money are as ingenious 
as they are varied. 

Knowing her idiosyncrasies, I asked Abigail 
where she was at the moment. 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

" In the kitchen, sitting in my wicker easy- 
chair," Abigail replied, still with elevated nose. 
" She just walked right in and plumped herself 

Whereupon I indicated, by dumb pantomime, 
that she was on no account to be left there with- 
out personal oversight; and Abigail intimated, 
by means of nods and becks and wreathed 
scowls, that she was keeping her left eye on the 
visitor, over her shoulder, even while she was 
talking to me. We both knew that all was fish 
that came to Mrs. Price's net, and she would 
negotiate with absolute impartiality a piece of 
soap, a duster, or a half-crown, should they lie 
in her way. 

Not long before, Miss Bretherton, the 
Rector's niece, a middle-aged lady who keeps 
house for him, had tried to give one of the 
Price girls — Esmeralda by name — a good start 
in life, taking her into the rectory kitchen. But 
things disappeared with such alarming rapidity 
during the first month she was in residence, that 
she had to be sent back home again. 

She left on a Saturday after middle-day 
dinner. In the afternoon the house was observing 
the all-pervading quiet that was customary on 
Saturdays while the Rector was in his study 
preparing for Sunday. 

Miss Bretherton, requiring something in the 

Jane Price! 

dining-room that adjoined the study, went in on 
tiptoe so as not to disturb him, when, to her 
amazement, she came upon the discharged 
Esmeralda sitting on the floor beside an open 
sideboard cupboard where some jars of pickles 
were stored, ladling out pickled walnuts as fast 
as she could into one of the maternal pudding 
basins. Seeing Miss Bretherton, she just picked 
up her basin, walnuts and all, and hastily retired 
the same way that she had come, through the 
French window. 

Now, obviously her ex-mistress — over fifty 
years of age and liable to rheumatism — couldn't 
chase after her in house-slippers and minus a 
bonnet, seeing it was raining ; so the bereft lady 
just closed the sideboard door and communed 
with her own feelings, womanfully stifling her 
desire to burst into the study and tell the Rector 
about it, even though it was his Saturday silence 

Next morning, Sunday, just as she was 
buttoning her gloves, preparatory to crossing 
the rectory lawn by the short cut to the church, 
the cook came to her with the agitated inquiry : 
Had the mistress done anything with the leg of 
mutton left by the butcher yesterday morning ? 

No, of course not I Why should she ? etc. 

Well, they hunted high and they hunted 
low, and the church bell gave its final peremptory 
clang when they were still hunting, but no leg 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

of mutton was found either in the master's boot 
cupboard, or under the bed in the spare room, 
or in the bookcase in the Hbrary, or in the wood- 
shed, or in any other of the equally likely places 
which they searched. Indeed, no one had ever 
expected that it would be found once its absence 
was discovered ; they just looked darkly at each 
other and murmured, " That Esmeralda, of 
course." Cook declares that her mistress added 
"the good-for-nothing baggage" under her 
breath ; but I can't credit that of Miss Brether- 
ton, who always manages to maintain a wonderful 
calm and self-restraint under the most trying 

At any rate, she told cook they must have 
fried ham and eggs for dinner — if you ever heard 
of such a thing on a Sunday at the rectory I 
and the Archdeacon of Saskatchewan preaching 
in the morning on behalf of the C.M.S. too ! 

Moreover, Miss Bretherton was ten minutes 
late for church, a thing never known before in 
the memory of the oldest inhabitant ; and then, 
still more remarkable, instead of waiting to speak 
to people after church, she set off at a terrific 
pace for Mrs. Price's cottage, and walked in to 
find the kitchen full of a delightful aroma, and a 
fine leg of mutton just being taken from the 
roasting-jack by Esmeralda and placed on the 
table, which was already adorned with a saucer 
containing pickled walnuts. 


Jane Price! 

Miss Bretherton knew better than to say, 
" That's my leg of mutton." Our village under- 
stands all about " having the law on 'un," if 
anyone upsets their feelings in any way. There- 
fore, swallowing hard, and determining for the 
hundredth time not to lose her temper, she said, 
" Where did you get that leg of mutton from, 
Mrs. Price ? " 

Had the woman replied, " From the butcher," 
that would have been fairly incriminating, 
because, of course, we don't require more than 
one sheep a week for home consumption in the 
village, and, as everybody knows, each sheep has 
only two legs, and it wouldn't require a Sherlock 
Holmes to track those two legs any week in the 
year. As it happened, this week's other leg had 
gone to my house. Had INIrs. Price claimed it 
as her own, she would have been undone. 

But she was too shrewd for that; she 
promptly replied, with a look of surprised 
innocence at such a strange question being 
asked by Miss Bretherton at such a time — 

" That leg of mutton, do you mean, miss ? " 
(as though there was a meat market to choose 
from I) " Yes ; ain't it a fine one ; it weighs 
seven pound, if it weighs an ounce." (Miss B. 
knew that ; she had studied the butcher's ticket 
only that morning.) " I couldn't get it into the 
oven, so we had to roast it afore the fire. I 
expect you find the kitchen a bit 'ot. But as 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

I was saying" (Miss B. had to press her lips 
together very hard), "it ain't often as I get a 
windfall Hke this, but my brother-in-law come 
up to see us yesterday jfrom Penglyn, and he 
brought it me for a birthday present ; that's why 
I had to send 'Sm'ralder round to the rectory 
in the afternoon to fetch my pudding basin as 
she'd left behind — the one she brought round 
that day with some new-laid eggs in, what I 
give her for a present for cook's mother who 
were bad." 

Miss Bretherton pressed her lips still tighter^ 
and walked out. She knew the brother-in-law 
wouldn't speak to " that Jane " if he met her in 
the same lane — such was the love between the 
two families — much less bring her a leg of 
mutton ; besides, he had none too many joints 
for his own family. She also knew that cook's 
mother had not been ill, and if she had, it 
wouldn't have been Mrs. Price who would have 
supplied the new-laid eggs. 

But she also knew the futility of attempting 
to circumvent a woman of this type, and she 
hated to have her stand there and tell still more 
untruths, the children hovering round. 

So she returned silently, and served the ham 
and eggs, and listened while the Archdeacon 
explained the difference between Plain Cree and 
Swampy Cree (which, he was surprised to find, 
she had hitherto confused in her mind, or at best 


Jane Price! 

regarded as one and the same language) with all 
the Christian grace and forbearance she could 

Only once did this nearly give out, and that 
was when, after she had apologised to their guest 
for such frugal fare and had briefly outlined the 
reason for the same, the Rector looked with his 
usual absent-minded benignity through his 
glasses at his plate, and said — 

" Well, my dear, I hadn't noticed any differ- 
ence : I thought this was what we usually have 
for dinner on Sundays." 

Just think of it ! And for the Archdeacon 
to go home and tell his wife ! So like a man I 

This much as a general survey of Mrs. 
Price's characteristics. She doesn't make an 
idylHc picture, I admit, nor seem likely to be in 
the running for a stained glass window in the 
Parish Room. But then villages no less than 
towns are made up of varied assortments of 
human nature — and don't forget we are none 
of us perfect. 

Nevertheless, making all allowances for 
human frailty, you don't wonder that I wasn't 
anxious for Mrs. Price to have the free run of 
my kitchen, and Abigail, remembering that 
she had left her purse on the dresser, hurried 

I finished the letter I was writing, and then 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

went out to see her. As I approached, I could 
hear her : 

" ' Sally,' he says, * don't let the kids fergit 
me,' and then 'e was gone. It's this new disease 
they've got from America — the * germs,' they 
calls it — and they do say as 'e makes a beautiful 
corpse, though I shouldn't never have thought it 
of 'e, the Prices being none of them perticker- 
lelly well favoured, even if he was me own 
pore husband's brother. But thur, thur, I 
say speak nothing but good of them what's 

She rose when I appeared, and, with a good 
deal of side-tracking on to irrelevant matters, 
chiefly connected with the excellence of her own 
children, she explained that her late husband's 
brother had just died " over to Penglyn," a little 
town fifteen miles away across the hills, and in a 
most un-get-at-able corner of the county. 

The funeral was to-morrow, and neither she 
nor the family of the deceased had a scrap of 
black, "leastways, exceptin' this bonnet, which 
don't look really respeckful to 'im as is gone, 
being me own husband's own brother." I admit 
the item that had been placed upon her head — 
whether for use or adornment it was hard to 
decide — resembled a jaded hen's nest more than 
anything else I The rest of her attire consisted 
of a green skirt, a crimson blouse, and a very 
light fawn coat (portions of costumes that had 

1 02 

Jane Price I 

started life in considerably higher social circles in 
the village), and a purple crochet scarf. 

Dimly it occurred to me that I had not seen 
Mrs. Price in bright colours before, for although 
she never wore the conventional widow's weeds, 
she was usually in something black or dark ; the 
matrons in our village haven't gone in for skittish 
skirts or glaring colour-combinations as yet ! I 
concluded, however, that her black clothes were 
too shabby. She was saying — 

" And 1 didn't know where to turn, m'm. 
Everybody saying they hadn't none when I 
called, and there didn't seem to be a soul left to 
go to, and that pore dear sister-in-law of mine — 
leastways same as, being me poor husband's 
brother's wife — with not a scrap to put on 'cept 
his best overcoat what she's cuttin' down for one 
of the boys. 

" And then I bethought me of you, it come to 
me all of a suddint. I put down the pan of 
'taters I was peeling and come straight up. 
'Sm'ralder says to me, ' But, mother, you can't 
wear that ole bonnet up to that house ! ' But I 
says to her, * It's certain I can't wear what I 
haven't got, and the Queen haven't sent me one 
of her done- with crowns yet.' So I just come 
as best I could." 

I was a little surprised to hear that she had 
been refused at every door, for, irrespective of 
personal reputation, the better-off residents are 

103 H 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

always very good to any of the villagers who may 
be in want or in trouble ; indeed, we have only 
one mean woman among us, she who once 
remarked to a paid lady-companion, newly- 
arrived from a freezingly cold journey, and badly 
in need of a cup of tea to eke out her skimpy 
cold-mutton-bone lunch : "I'm sure you will 
enjoy a glass of water. We have really beautiful 
water here. Pray help yourself vihenever you 

Still, it was possible no one had had any 

I meditated a moment on my own ward- 
robe and Mrs. Price's capacious waist-measure ! 
Virginia's things would be still less use, as she is 
the size of a sylph. 

"I'm afraid I haven't anything that would fit 
you in the way of a skirt," I began, " but I've a 
large winter jacket if you don't think it will be 
too warm for June." 

" Oh, thank you, m'm. It's only the first 
week in June. I'm a very chilly person " (no one 
looking at her buxom proportions would have 
thought so !), " and a thick jacket is just what 
I'm needin' terrible bad. And if you had a skirt, 
it 'ud be jest the size for my pore dear sister-in- 
law. Ah, I can feel for her, being a widow 
myself, and left with them children. She said to 
me on'y yesterday, 'Jane, do try to get me a 


Jane Price! 

black skirt from anywhere, if on'y you can.' She 
says " 

" But you told me just now that you hadn't 
seen her since before her husband died," blurted 
in Abigail, forgetful of her usual good manners, 
and begrudging to see the family wardrobe being 
disbursed in this way, as she rather regarded my 
coats and skirts as her perquisites. 

Mrs. Price turned full upon Abigail that 
look of surprised innocence that stood her in such 
good stead. " She said it in a letter she writ me 
yesterday," she replied with dignified composure. 

Finally I told her I would look her out some- 
thing if she sent Esmeralda up for it in the 
evening. Mrs. Price lingered to recite further 
tales of woe to Abigail, till she, kind girl, in spite 
of her private estimate of the lady, bestowed on 
her a pair of black lisle thread gloves, as she 
spoke so pathetically about having to go to the 
funeral with bare hands and not being able to 
afford any gloves. 

When Virginia came in from " sticking " 
sweet peas in the garden, I told her about Mrs. 

" Well, I don't consider her a worthy object 
for charity as a rule," she remarked. " But at 
the same time, if Fate kindly supplies me with 
an opportunity to get rid of that big black hat of 
mine that I've never liked and never intend to 

105 H 2 

The Flow^er-Patch 
among the Hills 

wear again, I'm not the one to disregard it, 
especially as it will save my carrying that huge 
hat-box back to town. But whether she or the 
* sister-in-law-same-as ' wears it, either will find it 
good weight for the money." 

So we left the winter jacket, and the hat, and 
a black blouse Ursula added to the parcel, and 
my black cloth skirt for the sister-in-law, against 
Esmeralda should come for them. And then we 
started out to make some calls. 

Passing Miss Primkins' house, we just stopped 
to leave a book I had promised to lend her. 
Miss Primkins is a pleasant middle-aged lady, 
of very small independent means, who lives in a 
cottage by herself. The door stood open as 
usual. She looked over the stairs when I 
knocked, then explained that she would be down 
in a moment if we would go in. 

" I've been turning out things in the box-room 
— in order to find a little black for that Mrs. 
Price. Her husband's brother has just died, and 
the funeral is to be to-morrow, and she says no 
one in the place has any black in hand. So she 
came and asked me if I would mind lending her 
a black mantle ! — lending it to her indeed ! 

" I asked her what she had done with that black 
dolman I gave her not three months ago — you 
remember that dolman trimmed with black lace 
that I was rather fond of ? I bought it — oh, it 


Jane Price ! 

must be at least ten years ago — for my uncle's 
funeral. It was trimmed with two bands of 
crepe, one about four inches deep, and the other 
three inches, or perhaps two-and-three-quarters ; 
very stylish it looked, too. Then I had the crepe 
taken off and some black silk put on it — very 
good ottoman silk it was — that had originally 
been part of a black silk dress belonging to my 
sister. Next I had it covered with fancy net 
with velvet applique for a change — not that I 
Hked it, or would have thought of having it done 
had I known what it was going to cost. But 
they do take you in so at those town shops ; why, 
I could have got a new dolman for what it cost 
to cover that one ! And then it lasted no time, 
used to catch in everything, so I had next to no 
wear out of that. 

" I had it taken off, and the dolman tharoughly 
turned — every bit ; and the dressmaker put on 
some fringe, a sort of wavy fringe ; but I had to 
have it taken off, because that Gladys Price, 
when she came home for a holiday, had on a silk 
coat trimmed with fringe exactly Hke it, so there 
again I got taken in, as you might say. 

" After that, I put my brown fur trimming on 
it, but for the winter only ; and then for the 
summer I put on some deep black lace. I 
hadn't had that lace on more than six months 
when I gave her the dolman. (I remember quite 
well sitting up late that night to pick the lace 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

all off it.) Altogether, you can't say I had so 
much wear out of any of it, and it was a constant 
expense. And yet, would you credit it, when I 
asked her what she had done with it, she said it 
had ' wored out ' I Why, / could have had it 
another ten years in good use, without its being 
' wored out.' She's a thriftless woman, that's 
what she is. Still, I suppose it isn't for us to 
judge her." 

We had to hurry on. I wanted to call on 
Miss Bretherton, who had sprained her ankle 
and needed commiseration. We found her in 
that state of suppressed and bottled-up-in-a- 
Christian-manner irritation that is common to 
very active women who are suddenly tied to a 
chair with some of their machinery out of gear ; 
and, Hke most other women under similar con- 
ditions, she was trying to do ten times as much 
as she ought to have done, in order to prove to 
everybody that there was nothing the matter 
with her. 

" You'll just have to come into the midst of 
all this muddle," she sighed, " for I can't move 
myself into another room." 

" Sorting things for a jumble sale ? " I 
inquired, looking at sundry piles of garments 
strewn about her. 

" It almost amounts to that ; though I really 
started out to get a few things together for a 


Jane Price! 

woman in the village who seems to be rather 
needy at the moment, that Jane Price. Her 
brother-in-law has just died — you remember 
Zebadiah Price, who hved at Briar Bush Cottage 
before they took a httle place at Penglyn ? We 
lost sight of them after they left here — it's such 
a cross-country place they've gone to. I'm rather 
surprised they haven't asked the Rector to bury 
him, he thought a good deal of Zebadiah ; but 
all the same I'm glad they haven't, for it takes 
you the best part of a day to cover that fifteen 
miles, and he has a sUght cold. It seems she's 
going to the funeral to-morrow. 

" I admit there are several women in the 
parish I should feel a greater pleasure in helping 
— she does try my patience at times — but I felt I 
ought to do what I can in this particular case, 
as she doesn't seem able to get any black from 
anyone else. Everybody says they gave theirs 
to the last jumble sale, she tells me, though / 
didn't see any of it ! 

" She is wanting some for Zebadiah 's family 
too ; they are left in bad straits, she says. I was 
only too glad to find that she and her sister-in- 
law have buried the hatchet at last ; they've been 
at loggerheads for years ; she really spoke very 
nicely about it. She said the older she got the 
more she felt life was too short to spend it in 
quarrelling, and at a time like this she thought 
bygones should be bygones. I don't like to mis- 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

judge the woman," Miss Bretherton continued 
with a sigh. " Sometimes she seems so anxious 
to do right. Her bringing up was against her. 

And yet " And then the Rectoress closed 

her lips firmly determined to say no uncharitable 
thing, even about " that Jane Price." 

I'm afraid I didn't think too highly of 
Mrs. Price at that moment. I remembered the 
parcels of black garments waiting at my house 
and again at Miss Primkins'. Moreover, Mrs. 
Price's occasional lapses into fervent piety 
annoyed me very much, because 1 suspected 
they were developed for my benefit. She always 
gave me a long recital of woes and financial 
difficulties whenever she saw me, and invariably 
finished up with, " But thur, thur, I don't let it 
worry me, for I always say, *The Lord will 
provide.' " I much objected to her taking the 
Name in vain in this manner, more especially as 
it generally happened that she gave Providence 
every assistance in the matter by helping herself 
to anything that lay within reach of her hand ! 

We did not stay long at the rectory, as I 
wanted to call on the lady of the manor. She 
kept us waiting a few minutes before she 
appeared ; but explained, as she apologised for 
the delay, " I've just turned out five trunks, 
two cupboards, and four chests of drawers — and 
goodness knows how many more I should have 


Jane Price! 

set upon if you hadn't come ! It's a pastime 
that seems to grow upon one like taking to 
drink or gambling — the more you have the more 
you want ! 

" I only meant to look through one chest for 
a black bonnet I thought I had put there — 
I'm trying to find some funeral wear for that 
Mrs. Price. Her husband's brother has died, 
Zebadiah Price ; they live over the hills at 
Penglyn. While he was alive, she hadn't a good 
word to say for his wife; but now he's gone, 
her conscience seems to worry her, and she says 
she feels the very least she can do is * to show 
respeck to the remains,' and she wants to help 
his family. So I've been going over a good deal 
of ancient history in my search for garments 
calculated to show a sufficiency of respect. She 
said she was afraid that what she had on might 
give a vnrong impression." 

" If she wore the same set of glad rags that 
she had on when she came to see us, likewise 
asking for mourning," Virginia interpolated, 
" she'd give the impression of a ragged rainbow 
gone wrong and turned inside out, rather than a 

" Oh, she's been to you, has she ? She told 
me she couldn't think of making so bold as to 
intrude her troubles on other people, and only 
came to me because she knew I had been so 
kind to Zebadiah years ago when he was ill ; 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

and added that my clothes always suited her so 
well ! " 

When we got outside, Virginia suggested 
with a twinkle that we should call on a few 
more people. We did, and at every house we 
were met with the sad intelligence of Zebadiah 
Price's death and his sister-in-law's quest for 
suitably respectful apparel. 

Surely Royalty could not have been more 
universally mourned — in our village, at any rate I 

Next Sunday we were rather puzzled on 
entering the church to see an ample lady clad 
in the most resplendent of widow's weeds, sitting 
in solitary state in the very front row — a seat 
usually patronised only by the halt and maimed. 

Her dress and mantle were of dull black silk 
trimmed with crepe about a quarter of a yard in 
depth. True, it was not quite new, but its 
cut and style were unmistakable ; anyone who 
possessed such a dress could afford to wear it 
even after its first newness had worn off; it 
stamped the wearer as a lady of means. A long 
weeper, black kid gloves, and a black-bordered 
handkerchief completed all we could see of the 
lady. We could only conclude that the distin- 
guished stranger must be very deaf indeed, to 
take the front seat. 

By this time all the congregation as it came 
in was interested. Such a stylish stranger would 


Jane Price! 

naturally attract attention. She kept her head 
devoutly bent, and used the handkerchief fre- 
quently ; we couldn't see her face. She might 
have been a peeress-in- waiting, judging by the 
dignity and decorum of her bearing. 

It was just as the Rector was repeating the 
opening sentences that the resplendent one turned 
round to see the effect she was making on the 
congregation, and behold — that Mrs. Price ! 

I am afraid I only just saved myself from ' 
making the time-honoured remark, " Did you 
EVER ! " 

" But what I want to know is this," said Miss 
Primkins (as several of us walked together along 
the high road after church, leaving Mrs. Price 
giving details of the funeral, and the innumerable 
wreaths, to her friends). " Where did she get 
those weeds from ? There isn't a widow among 
us, nor a relative of a widow, so far as I know. 
Now who gave them to her ? " 

But we none of us knew. It certainly looked 
suspiciously as though Mrs. Price had used the 
poor late Zebadiah as an excuse for dragging the 
whole county ! 

I wasn't surprised that she herself had donned 
fresh weeds, for as we are remarkably healthy 
upon these hills, we are apt to make the most 
of a funeral when it chances our way, and the 
opportunity to wear mourning, carrying with it, 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

as it does, a certain personal distinction, is not to 
be passed over lightly. 

On one occasion I remember meeting a 
farmer's wife on Sunday morning in deep black 
(that had done duty for several previous family 
bereavements), weeping into her handkerchief as 
she went along the road to church. We stopped 
to inquire about her trouble. 

"My poor old mother's gone at last," she 
sobbed. We were truly sorry for her grief, and 
asked when she had died. 

" Well, I 'spect it would be about three or 
four this morning ; that's the time they usually 
go. I had a letter last night saying as how they 
didn't reckon she'd live the night. So she'll be 
gone by now. My poor mother ! I'U never see 
her again ! " and she wept afresh. 

I'm glad to say the mother is still alive, and 
very flourishing. 

It was about a fortnight later that Virginia 
gave me the wildly-exciting information, culled 
from the local paper, that some Roman remains 
had just been excavated. I murmured " Oh 1 " 
in that absent-minded way people will do when 
their thoughts are called off the subject of What 
shall we have for the midday meal ? to higher 

I was thinking like this: "I did intend to 
have steak and kidney pudding, but as the 


Jane Price! 

butcher is late, there won't be time to cook it ; 
there isn't enough cold tongue— at least, that 
knobbly end part is no use — we have plenty of 
eggs in the house, so we must just make out with 
that soup left over from yesterday and omelettes ; 
or we might easily have " 

" Either a viaduct or an amphitheatre or a 
villa ; they aren't sure as yet which it is," went 
on Virginia. " You read about it yourself ; it's 
awfully interesting. There ; in that column — 
see ? ' Roman Remains at Penglyn.' " 

"At Penglyn? It can't be Zebadiah," 1 
commented ; " he wasn't as old as that I " 

Nevertheless, we aren't particular to a few 
hundred years in our village. For I remember 
last year an old woman telHng me, " Have you 
heard, m'm, of the great news in the village ? 
The Black Prince is staying at the Inn ! Yes, 
to be sure ! And he seems to understand our 
language beautiful, he do ; though they say he 
does speak the foreign to a gentleman what's 
staying there with him. The only thing I was 
surprised about was to see how young he do 
look, considering of his age. Why, I remember 
hearing tell about him when I was at school ! " 
Later on I found the historic potentate was a 
harmless Indian law-student. 

Virginia kept on about the Roman excava- 
tions, and announced her intention of going to 
see them. I protested that I wasn't going to be 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

hauled across a stony mountainous region in a 
wagonette, and then change twice by slow train, 
an hour or so to wait at each change, and ditto 
to get back, all to see a few brick walls, when 
the garden so badly needed weeding. 

She was indignant, said she should prefer to 
go alone to having unsympathetic and uninformed 
society ; reminded me of the histories of nations 
that had been found embedded in brick walls, 
waxed eloquent on the subject of the Egyptian 
hieroglyphics and the Rosetta Stone, skipped 
lightly from the pointed apex of the Pyramids 
to the significance of the flat roofs of Thibet, 
examined the walls of the buried cities in central 
Asia, and before I had fully realised that I was 
really travelling in the East, I found that she 
was examining the designs on the Aztec pottery 
of ancient Mexico. 

Fearing that we should have this sort of thing 
straight on end for a week, I said we would go 
next day, weather permitting, if only she would 
help me decide whether to have the omelette 
plain, or a cheese omelette, or would they prefer 
macaroni cheese ? I have found in the past that 
the crystallisation of thought necessary to follow 
Virginia, when she is in an informing mood, 
creates a vacuum, and then I get a cold in my 

I also inquired whether she would prefer to 
drive all the way, or go by train. 


Jane Price! 

She replied, still with her eyes glued to the 
interesting newspaper treatise on antiquarian 
rehcs, that she would rather I settled these minor 
details, adding that she always liked to leave the 
arrangement of everything to me, as it gave 
her such opportunities to point out to me the 
feebleness of my methods and ideas. 

I decided to go with her, simply because I 
knew that unless she had some firm, restraining 
force beside her, she would go and buy that 
Roman viaduct, amphitheatre, or villa, and order 
it to be sent home ; and, for aU I knew, she 
might give my address in a fit of wandering- 
mindedness, and what should / do with it when 
it arrived ? You can't pack an amphitheatre 
away in the empty pigsty, and all the other 
space was occupied with seedUngs and things ! 

Besides, she has no bump of locahty (neither 
have I, for the matter of that) ; but I thought 
it would look better if two of us were arrested 
for wandering about without any visible means 
of subsistence ; at least, I could say I was her 

Next morning we inquired of the barometer 
as to the weather prospects. By the way, that 
barometer is a unique treasure. V. and U. gave 
it to me one birthday ; I had long been craving 
one that was a genuine antique. There was no 
doubt about this one — its antiquity, I mean ; for 
the rest, until you get on speaking terms 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

with it, I admit that it does seem a trifle 

But I'm not one to look a gift horse in the 
mouth, so I'll say no more on this point, save 
that we tapped it vigorously ; whereupon the, 
long hand flew wildly round and round one way, 
while the short hand did a whirligig, equally 
excitedly, in the opposite direction. 

We waited till they both got tired of spinning 
round, and then, as the long hand pointed to 
" Much Rain," with leanings towards " Stormy," 
we knew we could rely on a very fine day. 

But we tapped it once again, just to make 
sure it knew its own mind. After it had wiggled 
giddily round as before, the long hand stopped 
midway between " Set Fair " and " Very Dry." 
Of course that confirmed our former calculations, 
and we got out our new summer hats, and left 
our umbrellas at home. Virginia had worn her 
new hat indoors most of the previous day, in 
order to get her money's worth out of it, because 
she said she never got her money's worth 
out of any of her garments, save her raincoat 
and her umbrella. [N.B. — Is an umbrella a 
garment ?] 

It was market day when we got there, and 
all the town was of course wending its way 
either to or from the market-place. One of the 
very first people we ran against was Mrs. 


Jane Price! 

Zebadiah Price ; but, to our surprise, she was 
wearing neither my black cloth skirt nor Ursula's 
black blouse. On the contrary, she was in quite 
gay attire — a brown coat and skirt, a blue blouse, 
a lace collar, a string of pearls as large as 
marbles, and a tuscan straw hat trimmed with 
roses and purple geraniums. I had known her 
in the past, when she lived in the village ; so I 
stopped and spoke to her. 

" I was so very sorry to hear of your sad 
trouble," I began. Yet the subdued tones I 
used and felt necessary to the occasion seemed 
curiously out of place beside all that market-day 

" Yes, thank you, m'm ; it did upset me 
awful," she said, looking very woe-begone. 

" I'm sure it did," I said feelingly. 

"You wouldn't believe how I fretted over 
'un. Seems kind o' foolish I s'pose when I've 
got the children. But I got that attached 
to 'un." 

" I can quite understand it," I murmured 
sympathetically. " After all, children can't take 
the place of the one that is gone." 

" No, m'm ; that's what I say." 

" And it was very sudden, wasn't it ? " 

" Yes'm ; taken bad and gone in a few hours," 
she continued. "And that was the second I 
lost in two months. I don't have no luck 

119 I 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

" The second in two months ! " I repeated in 

" Yes'm, and I feel that downhearted about 
it, I don't think I'll go in for another. I said so 
only last night to my husband." 

" Your husband ? " I echoed again. It was 
beginning to sound like bigamy ! 

" He said at the time he thought the £l5 I 
give was a swindle for the brindled cow." 

" The brindled cow ? " 1 said feebly. I really 
didn't know what else to say. Virginia need not 
have laughed ! 

Then I rallied my senses. " But I thought 
you had trouble about a fortnight ago — your 
husband, Zebadiah Price — I heard " 

" My Zeb ? About a fortnight ago ? Let's 
see?" — thoughtfully turning her left eye in 
the direction of the church spire, and thereby 
tilting her hat askew. " Ah, I expect you mean 
about last February ; to be sure, he did have a 
touch of this 'ere influenza ; and he were a bit 
queer for a couple of days, he were : but that 
was nothing to my losing my calf ! " 

" I'm glad it was no worse," I said heartily. 
" Why, Mrs. Jane Price told me she was coming 
to the funeral." 

" Jane I " ejaculated Mrs. Zebadiah. " Jane 
Price said she was coming to his funeral ? Not 
if I know'd it, and it had been me very own 
even, she wouldn't ; the hussy — begging your 

1 20 

Jane Price! 

pardon, m'm, for using sech a word. She knows 
better than to try to put so much as a shoenail 
of her foot inside our door. She never aren't and 
she never shan't. Though for brazenness there 
ain't their beat in the county. Why, p'raps 
you've heard how that there Gladys Price has 
started an ole clothes shop in the town here, 
right under our very nose, and my husband as re- 
spected as he is. There it is for everybody to read 
over the door — * G. Price. Ladies and Gents' 
Hemporium ' — whatever that may be ! Coming 
to his funeral, indeed ! It makes me broil I " And 
Mrs. Z. went off fairly sizzling with indignation. 

When we had duly found (after long search) 
and surveyed the Roman remains (which con- 
sisted of three upright stones, something like 
those used for kerbstones in the streets, and 
stood in the middle of a very boggy field), and 
had failed to decide whether they were the 
viaduct, the amphitheatre, or the villa, I 
suggested a speedy return to the station, as 
it was now coming down a steady drizzle, 
with indications of still more to follow. But 
Virginia said — 

"I'd Hke, while we're here, just to have a 
look into the hemporium window, to see what 
she has marked that hat of mine." 

When we reached it, behold, it was like 
taking a regretful look back into the past, for 

121 I 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

most of the garments there displayed we had 
formerly known when they walked our village 
street in decorous Sunday glory. And they 
included: a grey cloth coat of mine that had 
disappeared most mysteriously ; a long silk scarf 
of Ursula's that, so far, she had never missed ; 
and a bead-bag I had often admired when 
carried by the lady of the manor, and which, we 
felt sure, she had never given away. 

" Talk about excavating Roman remains ! " I 
exclaimed ; but Virginia's conversational powers 
were only equal to " Did you ever I " 

And we damply faded away in the direction 
of the station. 



Just Being Neighbourly 

Those superior Londoners who know nothing 
at first hand about Nature " unimproved," the 
type who find complete satisfaction for soul, 
body and mind at some loud and crowded sea- 
side resort, sometimes say to me : " I can't think 
how you can endure the terrible isolation of the 
country — with absolutely nothing to look at, no 
one to say a word, nobody to take the shghtest 
interest in you, dead or aHve. Well, / should 
go out of my mind in such soUtariness ! But 
then, I am so human ; I do hke a little Ufe," etc. 

I don't attempt to convert such people. 
After all, they are just as much entitled to their 
views as I am to mine. Besides, I am only too 
thankful that they keep away from our hills, and 
disport themselves in an environment more in 
keeping with their personal tastes. We don't 
want the blatant woman, or the overdressed 
(which nowadays means underdressed) woman, 
or the artificial woman, or the woman who " Hkes 
a little life " ; our hills would never suit them 
as a background, either mentally or otherwise. 
Why, we have neither a music-hall nor a picture 
palace for I don't know hoiv many miles round ! 
A benighted spot, isn't it ! 

But when they reproach us with having no 
one to say a word, and nobody to take the 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

slightest interest in our doings — well, I could 
say many things ! But I merely assure them 
that we are nothing if not neighbourly ! 

I took my sewing and went down to the 
bottom of the lower orchard. It was a warm 
day, but not too hot to sit out of doors at eleven 
in the morning, provided one found a shelter 
from the sun overhead. As I have explained 
before, my cottage is on a steep hillside, the 
whole earth runs either up or down. In only a 
few favoured spots can you place a chair — and 
sit on it — with any degree of certainty ; and even 
then you probably have to level up the back, or 
the front, by putting some flat stones under two 
of the legs. The slope of the hill faces south ; 
hence we get all the sun there is. 

The bottom of the lower orchard was just the 
place for such a day. A wall with overhanging 
tangles of honeysuckle and ivy, and an oak-tree 
that spread big arms well over the wall, gave 
just the shade one needed from the blazing sun. 
I put the wicker chair with its back to the wall 
— and such a comfort a wall is anywhere out of 
doors when you want to sit down. 

The view from this spot is very restful on a 
summer's day : the hot south is behind ; one 
faces the cooler, glareless northern sky above 
the hill that rises before one. 


Just Being 

This orchard is but sparsely populated with 
fruit-trees, and most of these are very old. There 
are some huge pear-trees that rise tall and fairly 
straight, suggestive of rather well-fed poplars. 
There are some twisted, rugged apple-trees, 
every branch and twig presenting a wonderful 
study in silver and grey and green filigree, where 
the Uchens have spread and revelled unmolested 
for many a year. The lichens are so marvellously 
beautiful, it always takes me quite a time to get 
down to the lower wall ; there is so much to 
look at on the way. The delicate fronds, that 
seem closely related in their appearance to the 
hoarfrost designs on the winter windows, show 
such a variety of different cluster-schemes. They 
decorate the odd corners, and throw beauty over 
the hard knots and gnarls, till I sometimes think 
they are among the most exquisite things Nature 
has ever produced — only while I am thinking 
this, I come upon something else equally 

Even on a hot day, when most of the mosses 
and lichens have faded in the glare and drought, 
we still find the silvery-grey tracery flourishing on 
the shady side of the apple-trees, and on the pieces 
of branches that were snapped off and blown down 
into the long grass by the equinoctial gales. I 
usually gather up an armful of these branches, 
with their delicate pencil studies on a darker 
background, and carry them down to the bottom 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

of the orchard with me — only to wonder why 1 
didn't leave them where they were till I returned, 
as I have to carry them back up the hill again 
presently ! 

It may seem weakly sentimental to those 
who do not understand, but I confess that, 
much as I love the smell of burning apple- 
wood, it always gives me a real pain to put 
on the fire twigs that are ornamented with moss 
or lichen. It seems heartless to destroy such 
beauty, even though there is "plenty more 
where that came from," as people sometimes 
tell me. 

In the summer I put the pieces of the grey- 
green branches, that I gather up about the 
orchard, in the empty hearths and grates. 

Many of the old trees originally planted in 
the lower orchard have died or been blown down ; 
the wind takes a heavy toll from these heights ; 
we can't have pergolas and rose arches up here, 
as they can lower down in the valley, unless we 
fasten them to very firm foundations. 

As no previous 'owner in this happy-go-lucky 
district thought it worth whiles to put new stock 
in the place of the fruit-trees that have come 
down, there are plenty of open spaces, and com- 
paratively little to obstruct the view as you sit 
against the bottom wall and look up the hillside. 
I am afraid this orchard is more ornamental than 
useful, for the pears are the hard bitter sort used 


Just Being 

for making perry, a drink that is very popular 
locally ; and the apples are the equally uninter- 
esting-to-the-taste cider variety. Yet they are 
so exceptionally beautiful, as the fruit turns 
crimson and yellow and golden brown, that the 
trees become a glory of colour in fruit-gathering 

After all there is excuse for ornament without 
specific use, if a thing be very, very ornamental 
— and the orchard certainly is that. 

The sun reaches well under the trees, where 
the wild flowers and grasses make a softly waving 
sea of colour. Of course, I know the grass ought 
to be kept cut, so as to prevent undue nourish- 
ment being taken from the earth for the support 
of " mere weeds." But we pretend that it is 
properly cropped by " Hussy ; " she is the mild- 
eyed dusky Jersey, belonging to the farmeress 
who supplies our milk, and is so-called, because 
she has a playful habit of kicking over the pail. 

Occasionally she is turned in and roams about 
at meditative leisure, to the indignation of the 
small dog, who regards her as a hated rival. But 
once the fruit appears, she has to be removed ; 
either she chokes herself with pears, or else they 
don't agree with the butter ; or various other 
things. Even a cow seems a complicated problem 
when you own a real one ; and though I have 
only had cow-anxieties secondhand, so to speak, 
my acquaintance with " Hussy " has led me to 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

wonder whether, on the whole, a tin of milk is a 
more sure and certain investment for sixpence- 

But even when the orchard has a tenant, it is 
surprising how little damage she seems to do to 
the wild flowers. This is all the more remark- 
able if you have ever seen what devastation one 
simple-minded cow is capable of, if it indulges 
in but a ten minutes' revel in your flower- 
garden ! " Hussy " seems to eat carefully round 
the flowers, leaving the whole plant intact, which 
is more than a mowing machine will do, despite 
its much vaunted up-to-dateness. Civilisation 
has still a lot to learn. 

Every season has its special flower show in 
this orchard. 1 only wish I could get the same 
never-failing succession of flowers in my garden 
that Nature does in hers. 

On this particular July day the large field 
scabious was perhaps the most noticeable flower ; 
its mauve-blue blossoms high above all the rest ; 
its long stalks always determining to out-top 
everything else that grows in the delightful 

"Please, ma'am, I've brought you some 
flowers," said a little pinafored girl to me one 
day, when I had just arrived. She is an especial 
favourite of mine, and lives in a cottage along 
my lane. This is her way of just being neigh- 


Just Being 
* Neighbourly 

bourly. In her hand was a large bunch of 
scabious and grasses. 

" These are very pretty," I said. " What do 
you call them ? " 

" Please, ma'am, I call them ' Queen Mary's 
Pincushions,' " she said shyly. 

The country names for the flowers are often 
so much more interesting than the ones you find 
attached to them in books. After all, " Queen 
Mary's Pincushion" has something real and 
understandable about it for just ordinary people 
like myself ; whereas Scahiosa arvensis (its proper 
name) doesn't stir my heart the least little bit. 
It was easy to see the process by which the child 
had got the name — the flowers are wonderfully 
like plump round pincushions, with the stamens 
for the pins : but anything so delicately beautiful 
would not be suitable for aught save a royal 
lady's dressing-table ; hence Queen Mary was, of 
course, the one to whom they were dedicated. 

And isn't the name *' Lady's Laces " most 
suggestive? That is what we call the white 
filmy flowers of the hedge-parsley. I seldom 
see a fine white lace evening gown without 
thinking of the soft mist of white over green 
that surprises us in June, and smothers the 
orchard when the Lady's Laces suddenly burst 
into billows of bloom. 

Some of the local names are more material 
and prosaic than idealistic, however. There is 


The Flower- Patch 
among the Hills 

another flower that grows all about the orchard, 
in close company with the scabious ; it has 
bunches of bright yellow flowers of the daisy 
family, growing in compact heads at the top of a 
tall stem. I am very fond of this flower ; it gleams 
sunshine all over the place ; but I don't care to 
call it Senecio Jacohcea, which is its proper name ; 
it's so mortifying when people look at you puzzled 
and inquiring, and then ask, with a patient sigh, 
if you would mind spelling it ! I never could spell. 

Neither do I care for its other slightly less 
ofiicial name, " Common Ragwort." So one day 
when an old man was passing, who is fairly well- 
up in flowers, I asked him if he could tell me 
the name of this Sunshine plant. To which he 
replied — 

" Wealluscallsemards'm." 

I didn't ask him to spell it, because I don't 
fancy he can spell any better than I can. I 
merely said, " I don't think I quite caught the 
name ? " 

" I said ' 'ards,' Mum ; {crescendo) * 'ARDS.' 
We alius calls 'em that 'cos they're so 'ard to 
puU up." 

I thanked him, and still, in secret, call them 
the Sunshine flowers — though I admit that 
Virginia, having recently set out gaily to rectify 
my shocking laxity in the matter of the proper 
cultivation of an orchard, at last decided herself 
to call them " 'Ards." She found that the act 


Just Being 

of sitting down violently and unexpectedly so 
many times in the course of trying to pull up a 
few innocent-looking plants, wore her out more 
than it did the 'ards ; so she gave it up at length, 
and there they remain until this day ! 

Intermingling with Queen Mary's Pincushions 
and the Sunshine flowers is a rosy purple flower 
that blends dehghtfully with the other two ; 
Knapweed is one of its names ; it looks some- 
thing like a thistle bloom at a distance, but it is 
really a relation of the Sweet Sultan that grows 
in the garden beds, I believe. 

Then there are Harebells dancing in the 
wind on the top of little grassy mounds ; so frail 
they look — yet " Hussy " never seems to walk 
on them ! Ragged Robins flutter pink petals 
beside a little brook that runs down at the side 
of the orchard ; and here are also big blue forget- 
me-nots, with bright yellow centres. 

But there is one thing about this orchard 
that very few people have discovered, and that 
is the host of sweet-smelling things that you 
walk on or rub against, as you carry the wicker- 
chair down to the bottom wall. 

Do you know what it is like to walk on 
Pennyroyal and Sweet Basil ? Have you ever 
stood still suddenly and said, " What is it ? " as 
a delicious aromatic scent added itself to all the 
other lovely scents floating around ? 

I discovered a whole world of beautiful scents 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

in among the orchard grass. The Pennyroyal 
was most unsuspicious-looking, till I stepped on 
it. (I didn't mean to step on it ; but then one 
must walk somewhere I) Next I found out the 
Sweet Basil, with its unobtrusive pink flowers. 

Still I hadn't found it all ; a little later I came 
upon some wild mint beside the brook. The 
tansy I had long been friendly with ; the scent 
of it seems to fit in so exactly with a hot summer 
day ; and the wild thyme that grows on a sunny 
bank at one side of the orchard you couldn't 
possibly miss, the bees have so much to say 
about it. Bushes of balm, that have possibly 
strayed away from the garden, are always at 
hand, to rub a leaf when desired. 

But I think of all my favourites, the black 
peppermint has first place. I shall never 
forget the day I first discovered its dark shoots 
pushing up undaunted among the grass ; not 
but what I had a long-standing friendship with 
peppermint — in my first childhood, as bull's-eyes ; 
in my second childhood, as peppermint creams. 

But I hadn't the slightest notion what it was 
like in its natural state. When once I found it, 
I soon realised that it stood alone among all the 
scented wonders. I put some of it at various 
corners about the garden, because I found it 
has remarkable healing powers. No matter how 
dispirited you may be or out of joint with the 
world, it is only necessary to take a leaf, rub it 


Just Being 

and sniff it, whereupon the world smiles again, 
and you realise that, in spite of all, it is good to 
be alive. You will understand, therefore, how 
essential it is to have it in handy places, so that 
weary people, even if they do not know of its 
unique quahties, may rub against it in passing, 
and unconsciously come under its spell. 

It dies down in the winter, but when spring 
comes we always look eagerly for the first purple- 
black shoots pushing up cheerily from the soil. 

It has only one fault ; it suffers from zeal 
without discretion. It will not keep within 
proper bounds. At the present moment I am 
wondering whether it is better to dig up the 
bergamot or rout out the peppermint ; they are 
having a hand-to-hand fight for supremacy in 
one particular flower corner. 

I am afraid my needlework was a mere 
matter of form that morning. Who could glue 
their eyes to a piece of hemstitching with the 
whole earth fairly dancing with colour and light 
around them ? I faintly (but not very earnestly) 
wished that I had brought knitting instead of 
sewing, because that doesn't need to be looked 
at, and you can keep up a semblance of respect- 
able industry while you are watching all the 
wild things. 

I had been feeling rather aggravated with a 
woman who had written commiserating with my 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

odd predilection for being " buried " in a spot 
where there was "positively nothing to be seen." 
She was really pitying me ! Well, I pitied her 
back, and pitied her hard ; had she only known 
it, she would have been aggravated too. So at 
least we were quits. She had said that, for her 
part, she should simply die in such an unsociable 
place. I took care to be just as sorry for her as 
she was for me : it was a slight satisfaction to 
me I It was at this moment that I heard voices 
of two women talking in the lane, hidden from 
view by the orchard wall. 

" How's yourself, Mrs. Blake ? " 

" Only middling." (We always start our 
conversations with lugubriousness ; it seems 
indecorous to parade health and happiness before 
our neighbours !) " I'm in a tearing hurry. I've 
just been to the doctor's to see if he can't give 
me something for my poor Jim's tooth. It do 
pester him something cruel. I promised him I'd 
run all the way there and back ; he'll be raving 
till I get back." 

"Ah, he won't get no peace till he has it 
out, I reckon." 

"The doctor says why don't he have 'em 
out and get some new 'uns? But I call it 
waste. Look at my sister's husband : cost him 
a guinea his did ! Of course, he got a complete 
set top and bottom for that, fifty-three teeth 
altogether I believe he told me, and as natural 


Just Being 

as you please, I'll own. But seeing as of course 
he's got to take 'em out to eat, I call it spending 
just for show, even if they do give you a good 
mouthful for your money." 

" By the way, speaking of teeth reminds me 
— only I can't stop to tell you all about it now, 
as the children '11 be in from school at half-past 
twelve, and I haven't started the dinner yet — 
but I've just heard that poor Mrs. Jeggins over 
to Brownbrook's gone." 

" Pore thing ! Is she though ? " 

" Yes, your mentioning Jim's tooth made me 
think of it. They fancy it started with a tooth 
in her case too ; for she had faceache turrible bad 
about six months ago, her husband told me. 
And then it just went all over her like. The 
doctor simply couldn't do nothing with it. He 
tried every mortal bottle he had in his surgery, 
and gave her some out of every single one, and 
yet she died ! But there, I s'pose it had to be I " 

" I heeard tell from her sist'r-'n-law as she 
drank somethin' awful ; but, mind you, if it's a 
lie, 'taint my lie ; it's her lie as told me. And I 
don't at all hold with repeating a thing like that. 
But in any case, I shouldn't think it was her 
tooth ! I expect she et something that didn't 
agree with her." 

" Well, maybe ; as I always say, you can't be 
too careful what you eat nowadays. The dinner 
they've got up there smells tasty, don't it ? " 

135 K 

The Flower-Patoh 
among the Hills 

'* Yes ; it's roast duck." 

" Duck, is it ? I didn't know they'd had a 
duck this week. Who did they get it from ? " 

" Sarah Ann Perkins — that old brown one of 

" The hrown one ! How much did she ask 
for it ? " 

" Four - and - six." (An audible chuckle.) 
"Yes, four-and-six, if you believe me ! Fancy 
her having the face to ask it for that brown 
duck ! But there, those that can afford to pay 
may just as well do so for those who can't." 

" Just as well. But — four-and-six ! And she 
won't finish it up neither ; doesn't care for cold 
poultry, I'm told ; she'll have a fair slice from 
the breast, but that's all ; never allows it to be 
seen in the dining-room a second time. And 
there's only the two of them there now. Still, 
that Abigail's a hearty eater ! My husband was 
up there a-fixing a tile that had got loosish on 
the roof, and he told me what she et that day. 
A gammon rasher and an egg and four slices of 
bread and butter and a piece of fried bread out 
of the frying-pan and two cups of coffee — half 
milk — and some jam for breakfast. He was just 
a-going up the ladder past the kitchen window 
at the time ; and when he come down, finding 
as he needed a bit of cement, she was having 
lunch of bread and cheese and a cup o' tea out 
of her lady's teapot — she always has a cup of tea 


Just Being 

between 'leven and twelve — and he'd smoked his 
pipe right out afore she'd finished. And when he 
come down again at dinner-time she was having 
a dinner fit for a growed man just come home 
from the cattle market — made him hungry to see 
her, it did ; he hung about a bit looking for his 
jack-knife, as he wanted something to measure 
with. And at tea-time he went in for a drop o' 
water to mix the cement, and she was having 
potted meat and toast — butter, too, not dripping 
toast, if you ever did. But, of course, she 
relishes the good vittles she gets in a country 
place like ourn. So different to the stuff you get 
in a town." 

" You're right there ; but they do have a 
sight o' things down from London. There was 
a box with * Army and Navy Stores ' writ on 
it that was so heavy, it was all old Bob could 
do to get it on his shoulder, with our Tom 
to give him a hand. Old Bob said he'd been 
reading in the papers what awful waste there is 
in some o' the army camps and how the food 
gets throw'd away or sold by the cartload, to 
get rid of it, but he didn't know it was going 
on in the navy too — wicked, I call it. They 
thought it must be tinned things, it were such a 
weight, but they couldn't make out for sure, 
though they rattled it ever so hard to see ; it was 
packed up awful tight." 

" Taters weigh heavy, but it wouldn't be 

137 K 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

they ; she's got plenty, what with new ones 
coming on soon, and a large box left still of the 
old ones ; I saw them in the scullery last time I 
was there. I'm going to ask if I can have 'em, 
I'm so short for the pig. It might have been 
soap and soda and hearthstone, though ; they all 
weighs heavy." 

" That's true. StiU, I know for certain she has 
a heap of queer things sent down, because when 
I was in Jane Price's the other day, she had a pot 
of something called ' tunny fish,' whatever that 
may be, on the dresser. I asked her what it was. 
She told me she was passing here one day and 
thought she heard someone calling her name ; so 
she stepped inside and looked around. No one 
was there, but she chanced to pass the back door, 
and there on the top of the dustbin she saw this 
pot. She brought it away with her just to ask 
our Tom if he knew what it was ; but he says 
they don't catch it about here ; never heeard tell 
on it. Still, those sort of things aren't like a 
nice piece of fat bacon to my taste, to say 
nothing of duck ; though I like a bit more pick- 
ing on mine than they'll be on that brown one, I 

" D'you know, I expect they're cooking it 
now to have it cold for the company's supper to- 
night, because in any case they don't need it 
to-day. They had two chops and a shoulder of 
lamb and some gravy beef on Saturday. I met the 


Just Being 

boy taking it up, and asked him what he had. 
They'd have the chops that day, and the lamb 
roast on Sunday, and cold Monday ; and it's only 
Tuesday now, and they can't have finished it up 
— it was a fair-sized one ; and there's the gravy 
beef soup. You may depend it's for the 

" Oh I I didn't know she was expecting com- 
pany ? It won't be Miss Virginia and her sister, 
because they're abroad. She asked my husband 
to call for her afternoon letters as he was passing 
the post-office yesterday, and he brought 'em up, 
and there was a postcard with a picture on it of 
some foreign place, and it said, ' This is our hotel ; 
enjoying ourselves immensely ; expect to be here 
a fortnight.' And there was something written 
at the bottom that I couldn't make out, but it 
might have been a ' V,' or a ' U,' only it was 
smudged so's you couldn't see what it was. So 
it was sure to be from them." 

" No, it wasn't they two ; 'twasn't their trunks." 

" More than one trunk, is there ? Then 
they're going to stay a little while. My Buff 
Orpingtons have started to lay again ; that's 
lucky. How many do you say were coming ? " 

" I don't know for certain, but I fancy it must 
be three, because there were two blankets, one 
single-bed and one double, hanging in the sun 
when I came past yesterday, and Abigail was 
polishing the downstairs winders, and she'd got 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

clean cutt'ns to the little room over the kitchen, 
as well as in the sittin'-room. Not that there 
was any need to put up clean cutt'ns, that I can 
see ; those in the sittin'-room had only been up 
two months, and the upstairs ones were new last 
time she was down here ; you could tell they 
were new, the musUn hung so stiff. I take it a 
cutt'n isn't properly washed if it don't last six 
months at least. But she's very pertickler about 
cutt'ns. Abigail told my Mabel, that in London 
they don't never dream of keeping a cutt'n up 
more than a month, and often th 'whole lot is 
changed in a fortnight ; and just think, the 
winders is done ef^ery week \ Send me crazy, it 
would 1 I don't think it's healthy to be as finnicky 
clean as that; why, you're always opening 
winders and letting in draughts. And now this 
morning I see she's got the cutt'ns down in the 

Flower room " 

« The Flower room ? Which be that ? " 
" Oh, it's the name they've give the one on 
the right at the top o' the stairs. It's got a new 
laylock paper on the wall, and she's got a new 
bedspread, white, with bunches of laylock all 
about it, and a bit o' eeliertrope sateen hangs 
down behind the head of the bed to keep the 
draught off, though it 'ud be far more sense to 
shut the winder, / say, for that sateen's faded 
dretful in the folds already. I was only noticing 
it th 'other day, when my cousin was up from 


Just Being 

Woolv'ampton, and I took her over the house. 
. . . Oh, yes, Mrs. Widow'll lend me the key 
any time " (Mrs. Widow is my caretaker), " and 
it do make a bit of a change to take anyone to. 
My cousin said at the time she'd never buy a 
bedspread Uke that ; the colour's so fleeting. 
Besides, she wouldn't have a white ground in 
any case, it's always in the wash. She's made 
herself a lovely spread, she was telling me, out of 
a pair of old long curtains, just cutting out the 
bad places and then dyeing it a deep coffee 
colour with a httle cold tea ; makes it last like 
anything. I say the same ; them white spreads 
never pay for themselves. Though 1 rather like 
the one she's got with roses on — Hannah 
Craddock was a-washing of it one day when I 
dropped in" (Hannah is the village laundress), 
" that was the last time Miss Ursula was down, 
because Hannah was doing of her blouses that 
week, and my Mabel was very taken with one 
that had bits of crochet let in all about, and 
points of it up the sleeves just here, and my 
Mabel tried to copy it, only Hannah had promised 
it home that very afternoon, so we're waiting for 
it to come again, as Mabel can't get the yoke 
quite right. I'm sorry it isn't them who's 
coming. She wants to get it finished afore 
she goes to London next month." 

" Did you see the name on the trunks ? 
Now you mention it, I saw the boy taking a 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

telegraft up to the house yesterday — no, the day 

" It was my husband told me about it, when 
he looked in home just now, and his sight being 
so poor, he couldn't see the name " (in spite of 
the Educational Authorities many of the men in 
our village cannot read, but by courtesy it is 
always referred to as poor sight !), " so he asked 
the station-master if he should drop 'em any- 
where, as he had got her ladyship's cart there. 
He is helping at the Manor House to-day. He'd 
just taken some hay to the station, and it seemed 
a real waste o' good time to do nothing with it 
coming back. But the station-master said they 
was for up here, and old Bob was taking 'em up 
as the ladies wouldn't have the fly ; said they'd 
pefer to walk. And, would you believe it, he 
never so much as thought to ask how many 
there were. Still, I'll soon find out and let you 
know. I'll go up and ask Abigail if she can 
oblige me with the loan of a little salt. I've a 
couple of ducks myself as I'd be glad to get four- 
and-six apiece for if "■ 

At this moment Abigail appeared at the 
cottage door, and the gong reverberated and 
echoed as she gave it a vigorous hammering, 
calculated to wake me up wherever I might be. 

" Good gracious, that's for her one o'clock 
dinner I " exclaimed both the women in one 
breath, and fled in opposite directions, pre- 


Just Being 

sumably to minister to the raving and the 
ravenous ! 

As the conversation had implied, the duck 
was tough and inadequate ; but it was a certain 
satisfaction to me — as I sought about in vain for 
a fairly good slice from the breast of the skinny 
carcase — to reflect that I hadn't paid for it as 
yet. 1 was out when the youthful Perkins had 
dehvered it. 

For the rest, I didn't attach any value to the 
women's gossip. Once you have any real footing 
in a rural district, and have become part and 
parcel of the country-side, you soon learn that 
one impossibility is " terrible isolation." From 
rosy morn till dewy eve one or another woman 
is engaged in lengthy gossip with any other she 
meets, and in nearly every case the topic of 
exhaustive conversation will be the doings of 
somebody else ; moreover, the less that is actu- 
ally known about the third and absent party the , 
more two and two will add up to nineteen. 

In the main, I have seldom found such 
gossips either spiteful or slanderous. They 
consider it being neighbourly to keep count 
vof your sayings and doings. 

There were two items in the women's chatter 
that were enlightening, however. I had always 
suspected that Mrs. Price knew where certain 
items from my store cupboard had gone one 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

winter's night when the cottage was uninhabited 
and the kitchen window forced. I doubt if there 
was another person in the place who would have 
done it. Still I was glad to have the mystery 
cleared up. 

I was not surprised to hear that all and sundry 
had the run of my house when I wasn't there. 
The Englishwoman who occupies any house of 
more than six rooms, we will say (which she can 
keep clean her unaided self), knows that she never 
can call any room her own, excepting the one she 
chances to be in at the moment — and not even 
that one if the British workman happens to be in 
the ascendant I It is one of the compensations 
of life that the smaller our habitation, the more 
we ourselves get out of it personally — a kind of 
" intensive " interest. Whereas the larger our 
domains, the more imposing our houses, the 
more numerous our rooms, the more they are 
monopoUsed by other people — paid assistants for 
the most part — to the exclusion of ourselves. 

In my own very humble way I soon reaUsed 
that even my country cottage and its contents 
were only my own so long as I could sit on 
them, so to speak. I early discovered that my 
sheets and pillow-cases, my towels and table- 
cloths, were not allowed to lead a life of idle, 
selfish exclusiveness in my absences. Mrs. 
Widow's enterprising married daughter quickly 
furnished a room at her own cottage over an 


Just Being 

outhouse which had hitherto been used as a 
lumber garret ; this she could always let in the 
summer, when the big houses in the neighbour- 
hood were full up with visitors and extra rooms 
were needed. 

Of course, at times I proved exceedingly tire- 
some, and turned up at inconvenient moments. 
But in such an emergency neighbours would 
assist her with the loan of a sheet here and 
there and a towel or two, if mine had to be 
returned hastily. I have always found the poor 
most ready to help each other — especially when 
it was a case of "doing" someone who was a 
little better off. 

No, I was not surprised that Mrs. Widow 
graciously bestowed my door-key on her friends 
in search of an afternoon's recreation ; but I was 
just a trifle curious to know how they had got 
hold of the lilac bedspread, seeing that it was put 
away in a cupboard that possessed — so I prided 
myself — a unique lock; and it had never been 
used yet — at least, not by me I 

After dinner I wrestled womanfully with the 
overpowering desire to go down the orchard 
again and do nothing ; but a shower seemed 
threatening, and I decided to answer letters and 
correct proofs indoors. I told myself I would 
put in a full afternoon at really solid work, and 
would even carry it right on into the night, if 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

need be, without a moment's cessation save for 
the conventional nourishment — this, in order to 
clear up some of my arrears, and to enable me 
to garden the whole of next day with a perky 

" How do you kill time on a wet day in the 
country? "people sometimes ask me. It's simple 
enough. Here is the recipe : 

* Draw up a chair to the table ; get out ink 
and pens from one of the aged oak cupboards 
beside the fireplace. Open the dresser drawers 
and haul out stacks of unanswered queries from 
magazine readers, the office staff, printers, block- 
makers, artists, authors, and from people of 
whom I know nothing (friends and relatives 
gave me up long ago !). 

Next, take the heavy lid right off the oak 
chest (hinges were broken fifty years ago, so it 
won't lift up properly), dive in for armfuls of 
MSS., proofs, photographs, diagrams, sketches ; 
place same on table ; proceed to hunt among 
same for some one particular thing I feel I ought 
to deal with at that particular moment (though it 
may have lain unhonoured and unsung for weeks) ; 
can't find it anywhere. Go through everything 
again, this time classifying matter slightly by 
putting it in piles around me on the floor ; still 
can't find it, but unearth much else that ought 
to have been attended to long ago but wasn't. 

Decide to search upstairs ; turn out trunks, 

Just Being 

turn out cupboards, turn out drawers (incidentally 
discover and meditate upon various things need- 
ing mending) ; forget what I was looking for ; 
go on searching for it ; remember presently, and 
eventually run it to earth in my blotting-book 
downstairs, where, if I had had any sense, I 
should have looked in the first instance. Breathe 
freely, sit down — rather exhausted — to serious 

A tap at the door ; " May I come in ? " 
Enter visitor No. 1. And then they follow in 
quick succession. 

Finally, Abigail kindly undertakes to tidy up 
my papers " without disturbing a single thing ! " * 

Next day (if still wet) you repeat from * to ♦, 
as they tell us in the crochet patterns. 

I had just got settled to work on the missing- 
and-now-discovered letter, when Abigail tapped 
and entered. 

"I'm sorry to trouble you, ma'am, but could 
you spare me one of those Missionary books ? " 
pointing to a shelf containing a selection of the 
annual reports of religious and philanthropic 

Now for some time past I had been trying to 
interest Abigail — who is a church member — in 
foreign missions. I rather prided myself that I 
had done it tactfully, not forcing it upon her, 
but just arousing her interest by taking her to 


The Flower-PatiA 
among the Hills 

attractive meetings. I found that she had even 
gone to one on her own account. Hence I was 
naturally pleased to find that she was anxious to 
follow up the subject ; but as I did not consider 
an ordinary official report, with its small print, 
and balance-sheets and monotonous lists of sub- 
scribers, the type of literature best calculated 
to enthuse the novice, I reached down a small 
volume of bright stories of girl-life in India, well 
illustrated and prettily got-up. 

" Here is just the very thing," I said. But she 
took it reluctantly, dubiously, turning it about 
and looking it over in a dissatisfied manner. 

" No," she said, " it's one Hke that I want," 
pointing to a solid tome issued by one of the 
most revered of our missionary societies. " Can 
I have that one ? " 

" Certainly," I acquiesced, though it was an 
out-of-date report, and I knew the other book 
would have suited her better. 

" Yes, that's just right," she said cheerfully, 
as I handed it to her. ** That other 'd be too 
thin ; it's to go under the back leg of the side 
table in the kitchen, where the stone floor's 
broken. I've used one like this regular since last 
summer, but it's getting shabby. I thought a 
new one would smarten us up a bit." 

I remember on one occasion being at a 
missionary meeting for young people, at which 


Just Being 

there was a remarkably fine speaker from the 
foreign mission field. He said that if any felt 
they had a call to take part in the work in any 
way, he would be pleased to see them at the 
close. When the meeting was over, a small boy 
approached the platform. " Please can I speak 
to you, sir ? " 

" Certainly, my lad," said the speaker, shaking 
him warmly by the hand. " Now, what is it ? 
You can talk quite frankly to me." 

" Well, I wondered if — er " 

" Have no hesitation, my boy, in asking me 
anything you like." 

" Well, do you happen to have any foreign 
postage stamps ? " 

Just as I had settled down again, somewhat 
chastened, to my much neglected work, there 
was a knock at the door, and the lady of the 
manor was shown in. 

" I see you're busy," she began ; " but I won't 
keep you a moment. I only want to ask you if 
you're expecting Miss Virginia and her sister this 
afternoon ? No ? Oh, I am sorry ! I did hope 
they were coming. But, anyhow, whoever it is, 
do you think they would help to-morrow at the 
Sale of Work? Two visitors I was expecting 
have failed me, and I've no one possible for the 
picture post-cards or the pinafores. They needn't 
know anything about it, you know ; it only wants 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

someone who can reckon up that seven penny 
cards comes to sevenpence, and that's one and 
ninepence change out of half-a-crown, and that 
sort of thing. Now, do you think your friends 
would help ? " 

** But I've no friends coming," I said. 

" HaverCt you ? Why, I quite understood 

I was caUing on Miss Primkins just now (she's 
jam and jelly, you know), and I asked her if she 
couldn't put it on the pinafores — it would look 
quite decorative, and in this way I should save 
a stall; even then we shall be very crowded. 
Mrs. Blake had just been in to say she couldn't 
spare Miss Primkins the duck she had ordered, 
because you had visitors arriving to-day and 
would want a pair for Sunday." 

" Oh I ! Well, I'm not having visitors, neither 
am I having the ducks. But I'll come down 
myself to-morrow, if that's any help, and keep 
one eye on the pinafores and one on the picture 
postcards. And I think my mental arithmetic 
will be just right for the change you give." 

" But, don't you remember, you've already 
promised to look after the bookstall ? You sent 
us that big box of books months ago, with some 
of your own books in — which I want you to 
autograph, by the way. So I was going to ask 
you if at the same time you'd manage the jumble 
corner — the two things would go very well 


Just Being 

1 agreed with her heartily. 

" Oh, you know I don't mean anything hke 
that ! " she added hastily. " I only meant that 
you could more easily turn from selling lovely 
books, to dispose of one of your own done-with- 
but-still-charming coats and skirts, for instance, 
than if you had to cut up for the refreshment 
stall, and return with buttery fingers to respond 
to the rush there will be for your autograph." 

"Add the postcards to the books," I said, 
trying to be equally amiable, " and Abigail will 
gladly run the jumble corner ; she will be smarter 
at it than you or I." 

Abigail appeared as soon as her ladyship had 
gone. The farmeress who supplied us with milk 
was waiting in the kitchen to know if I wanted 
extra milk morning and evening in future, on 
account of company ; as, if so, she would save it 
specially. She was experiencing a shortage of 
milk, " Hussy " having run dry, and " Clover," 
for some unknown reason that I hadn't time to 
listen to, not doing her lactic duty as befitted 
her station in life. 

Emphatically I said that I should not want 
any extra milk — and a few other things. 

I resumed my work. 

Ten minutes later there was yet another 
interruption. This time it was the owner of the 
Buff Orpingtons, who had arrived at the back 
door to inquire if I was wanting any eggs — she'd 

151 h 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

brought eight with her, and expected another 
one to-night, which she'd send up — her hens had 
just started laying again, etc. 

I fairly blessed the individual who had first 
set going the fable that I was expecting visitors. 

I told Abigail that it was a matter of perfect 
indifference to me whether all the fowls in the 
district did, or did not, accommodatingly lay 
nine, or even ten, eggs for my especial benefit ; 
but what did matter to me was whether I could, 
or could not, get nine or even ten minutes of 
uninterrupted peace, in order to finish my letters 
before the postman arrived. (He always calls 
obligingly at five o'clock for my afternoon mail.) 
And I requested that she would kindly take in 
any and everything that came during the next 
hour (so long as it didn't need paying for !) ; 
only, for pity's sake, would she cease opening 
that door and seeking advice on the subject. 

After that I was left severely alone. From 
time to time I heard voices in the rear ; there 
was one very loud series of bumps and bangs — 
I concluded it was the missionary report being 
introduced to the table. But I worked on, and 
had just sealed up my last budget of proofs, and 
addressed it to the printers, when the postman 
appeared. I heaved a sigh at the amount of 
stuff he carried away. The shower had passed 
over without even damping the blossoms. I 
would have some tea, and then start watering. 


Just Being 

The postman was speaking to someone at the 
gate. No, it wasn't Abigail. I heard him say, 
" Yes ; this is Rosemary Cottage." I was 
gathering up my papers as footsteps dragged 
themselves along the path — " dragged " is the 
only word for it — and before I had time to step 
outside to see who was there, two female forms, 
one ample and one spare, made for the door 
opening into the hving-room, precipitated them- 
selves into the room, and sank into the nearest 
chairs, in the last stages of panting exhaustion ; 
while the ample one, in a coat and skirt of a 
large black and white plaid, buttoned and piped 
with cerise, exclaimed — 

" At last I Well, of all the out-of-the-way 
forsaken places I We've been tramping nearly 
all day, trying to get here from that wretched 
station 1 We must have walked miles — miles — 
up and down hill, only it was all uphill ; we 
found ourselves in woods with no possibility of 
ever getting out again ; we got into lanes that 
ended nowhere, and when we got there it was 
the wrong place ; we tried to take a short cut 
across some fields, and got stuck in a bog ; we 
met a flock of wild cows, and the top of that 
hedge positively ran into me Hke needles. When 
we did chance to find a house, hoping it was 
yours, it never was ; the people always told us 
to go on and ask further directions at the next 
house we came to, but each time there wasn't 

153 L 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

another house. Why ever didn't we take that 
fly at the station ! But there, he could never 
have driven us over all the huge stone walls 
we've had to climb I We've been walking for 
hours on end — hours — haven't we, dear ? " 

" Dear " nodded feebly. She was leaning 
back in the easy-chair with closed eyes. Her 
hat — of a remarkable shape — was trimmed with 
what looked like a kitchen flue-brush standing 
straight upright at the back ; at least, it would 
have been upright if her hat hadn't shifted 
askew ; at the moment the flue-brush was 
inclining towards her left ear. Her costume 
was mustard colour, with spasms of black. She 
must have been very pleased with it when she 
bought it, otherwise she could never have induced 
herself to get inside it ! 

I soon found that the ample one did not 
require any reply other than the feeble nod, as 
it would have impeded her eloquence. She 
went on — 

" I think, if you don't mind, we won't go 
upstairs till we've had some tea. We are 
absolutely prostrate, aren't we, dear ? " The 
flue-brush dipped slightly. " Could we have 
some tea at once ? " 

" Certainly," I said with alacrity. I had 
already decided that tea was the only possible 
way to relieve the strain of the situation, and I 
rang the bell. 


Just Being 
Abigail, after one comprehensive glance at 
the callers, fetched my very best afternoon tea- 
cloth, which she displayed on the table to the 
utmost advantage, that not an Irish inlet or a 
bit of lace border should be lost on the visitors. 
When she does not approve of any callers, or 
does not consider them quite in keeping with 
the family traditions, she invariably makes a 
terrific splash in front of them, getting out the 
special silver and the finest china, and serving 
with an air of withering superiority, as though 
she said, " Behold I this is how we live every 
day ; very diiFerent from what youve been accus- 
tomed to ! " 

The tiresomeness of it is that when intimate 
friends call, who really matter, the handmaiden 
treats the tea-table most casually ; they evidently 
don't count if they are known to be above 
reproach I 

From the look she gave the strangers, I knew 
we should have it all, and we did ! She was 
wonderfully quick in getting both the tea and 
her smartest cap and apron. She put as much 
silver as she could squeeze on the table ; she got 
out some egg-shell china plates for the bread and 
butter, and the old cut-glass for the preserves. 
She opened new jars of plum, black-currant, 
strawberry and raspberry jam ; she turned out 
preserved ginger into a blue Chinese bowl ; she 
put lemon-curd into a quaint brown dish, and 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

honey in a lustre saucer. She hunted out all 
the cake we possessed, and opened a tin of 
apricots ; she mashed up sardines with Worcester 
sauce, and heaped it on pale lettuce leaves, and 
she garnished some thin slices of ham most 
artistically with lemon and cucumber and 
flowering sprigs of rosemary. All this while 
the ample one was explaining to me how 
marvellously things were managed in London, 
the miles you could ride in a motor-bus for 
twopence, the cleanliness and speed and safety 
of the Tube, the ever-recurring convenience of 
a hal^enny in a tramcar, and the luxury of a 
taxi ; and then more moans to think of the miles 
they had covered without meeting either motor- 
bus. Tube, tramcar or taxi. 

When the table seemed on the very verge of 
breaking down with its abundance, and they had 
just drawn up their chairs, Abigail asked in 
clear tones that the visitors were bound to hear, 
** Would you wish me to bring in the cold duck, 
madam ? " (" Madam " indicates company ; 
"ma'am" is ordinary every-day.) I wasn't 
exactly anxious to bestow my to-morrow's dinner 
on the strangers, for I had reckoned to make the 
duck do for twice ; but, of course, under the 
circumstances, I was bound to ask sweetly, " Oh, 
would you care for a little roast duck ? It's 
cold,'' I added, by way of disqualifying the joint 
a little in their eyes. Fortunately they preferred 


Just Being 

ham, but it was satisfactory that at least they 
knew we had roast duck in the larder. 

After sitting up and taking a little nourish- 
ment, the wilted ones revived perceptibly, and 
even began to be gracious. I am afraid I am not 
very fond of the graciousness of that type of 
woman ; she does get it so mixed up with 
patronage. But I buoyed myself up with the 
thought that perchance I was entertaining angels 
unawares — though they didn't look Uke it ! 

The ample one continued to be voluble. I 
did not interrupt her with questions, because I 
find it is usually as well to let a situation explain 
itself; it usually does in time. Besides, I didn't 
quite know what to say. I couldn't exactly ask, 
" Who are you ? where have you come from ? 
and why have you singled me out for this 
particular visitation ? " Yet the longer I waited, 
the more awkward it became to open inquiries. 

" You have a very well- trained maid, I see," 
the large plaid continued, "that is to say, for 
the country " — with emphasis, to show me that 
there were obvious deficiencies, only she was 
willing to make allowances for them. " It's the 
first thing I always notice in a house. We are 
used to such excellent service — most excellent 
service, aren't we, dear ? " 

Dear agreed, but not very heartily ; she 
seemed to ponder for a moment before she said 
her customary " Yes." 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

"That is one reason why I always hesitate 
about leaving home." (How I wished she'd 
hesitated a little longer ! The sun was getting 
behind the fir-trees, and I did so want to start 
watering !) " You have some garden, I see, but 
it wants planning, doesn't it ? I wish you could 
see ours at home ; it would give you some ideas. 
We have a man in occasionally ; but we always 
superintend him ourselves. I'll tell you how we 
have it arranged. In the centre is a square 
lawn, and in the middle of this we have a round 
bed with scarlet geraniums in the centre, and a 
ring of calceolarias round them, and then outside 
that, at the edge of the bed, you understand, all 
round, you know, we have lobelias, little blue 
flowers, you know. You've no idea how bright 
and effective it is. And then in the border 
all round the garden by the fences, we have 
standard roses about a couple of yards apart, 
and a row of scarlet geraniums. It's so bright, 
and doesn't cost so much when you buy them by 
the dozen. 

" Your ceiling is very low, isn't it ? — still, 
for a cottage, it isn't a bad-sized room ; and I 
see you've made the best of it with your little 
bits of things put about." I do wish you could 
have heard the charming, indulgent condescen- 
sion with which she said "your little bits of 
things " ! " Though I don't think I've ever seen 
yellow walls before — very quaint, of course, but 


Just Being 

— er — rather peculiar. Don't you think so, 
dear ? " 

Dear said she did. But I don't know why, 
seeing that she was carrying about more yellow 
on her mustard person than I had in the whole 
of the house ! 

" I wish you could see our lovely dining-room 
at home," the plaid continued. I murmured 
inarticulations, as there was a pause where I 
was evidently intended to say something. " It 
has a dark red paper on the wall. We have just 
furnished it with fumed oak. I think fumed 
oak is so artistic. We have a most handsome 
sideboard that will only just stand across one 
end of the room. I don't mind telling you that 
it cost fifty pounds originally, but as the people 
to whom it belonged were a Uttle unfortunate, 
we got it — well, we didn't give quite that much 
for it ; but you'd never know. It was just as 
good as new. And we have aspidistras and a 
beautiful palm in copper flower-pots — really 
exquisite works of art they are ; and they go so 
well with the fumed oak, don't they, dear ? " 

By the time I had been taken over their 
beautiful drawing-room, we had finished tea — 
happily, for I already saw a beautiful best bed- 
room suite looming ahead. 

Having made a most excellent, not to say 
solid, meal, the voluble one shoved her chair 
back and said — 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

" I feel all the better for that cup of tea. 
Now, I think, if you'll show us the way, we'll go 
upstairs and have a good wash, and make our- 
selves presentable — not that you dress much for 
dinner, I suppose ? " 

I conclude I, too, was all the better for my 
cup of tea, for I felt myself warming to the 
work — and I led the way washstandwards most 
cordially. I didn't take them out into the haU 
to the more modern staircase, I opened the door 
in the corner of the room, and revealed the steep 
stone stairs ; and you should have heard their 
gurgles and squeals. 

" Oh, dearest, do look. Isnt it primitive ? 
And do you go up and down this every day ? " 

"Oh, no," I couldn't help repljring. "We 
only use this when visitors are here. On 
ordinary occasions we get in and out of the bed- 
room windows, and hop down the honeysuckle." 

She drew herself up reprimandingly ; she 
evidently wished me to understand that, though 
she was willing to treat me as an equal so long 
as I behaved myself, she couldn't allow any 
undue familiarity on my part. 

" I don't suppose you would see anything 
unusual in such an approach to the upper storeys, 
having been used to it all your life," she said 
distantly ; " but accustomed as we are to our 
magnificent staircase at home — wide enough to 
drive up a carriage and pair, isn't it, dear ? " — 


Just Being 

"Er — nearly " (Dear was the more 

truthful of the two, I fancy. ) 

" — And our beautiful pile carpet, in rich reds 
and blues, and the thickest of stair-pads under- 
neath, till you would think you were walking 
on real Turkey carpet, this naturally strikes 
us as — how shall I put it so as not to hurt your 
feelings ? — as — as very humorous, you know ! " 

" I quite understand," I said, as we entered 
my bedroom. 

She walked straight over to the window and 
looked out. 

"Not a house to be seen anywhere," she 
exclaimed dismally, " whichever way you look ; 
nothing in sight but those everlasting tree- 
covered hills." 

As she seemed inclined for a lengthy soliloquy, 
I poured out some water and indicated the soap- 
dish, as politely as I knew how, to Dear, who 
had taken off her hat and coat, and seemed 
almost grateful for my attentions. I noticed 
that Abigail had been up and had adorned the 
towel-horse with my finest damask towels with 
embroidered ends, and had got out a rare and 
treasured bedspread made entirely of lace, that 
had just been sent me as a present from Venice, 
and had put it over the bed in place of the old- 
world patchwork quilt that I infinitely prefer in 
the cottage ; it was so much more in keeping 
with the surroundings. 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

The ample one turned with a sigh from the 
depressing outlook that was so deficient in motor- 
buses and halfpenny car rides and taxis and 
houses, and said, evidently striving to make the 
best of a bad job, "At any rate you've tried to 
make it look as nice as you can inside. Do you 
know, I rather like that bedspread " — as though 
conveying a real favour on the article in question. 
" It reminds me of an exquisite bedspread we 
have at home something like it, only ours is 
linen, with shamrocks on it in soHd embroidery." 
And she flung down her coat and other impedi- 
menta on the top of the lace in a way that made 
me tremble for its safety. " It's something like 
ours — don't you think so, dear ? " 

Dear had her face in the soft delicious lather 
of the rainwater, and didn't reply. 

" But " — at this point transformation came 
over the black and white plaid — " I've only just 
noticed it I This is a double bed I Look, dear, 
it's a DOUBLE bed ! And I most distinctly said 
in my letter it was imperative that we have two 
single beds ; the same room would do, I said — 
no need to go to the expense of two rooms — but 
on no account a double bed. As I can't possibly 
rest unless I have the bed to myself — I'm a very 
light sleeper, whereas my friend sleeps rather 
heavily, not to say — er — sonorously, don't you, 
dear ? — I must simply insist that you have this 
bed taken down and two single ones put up in its 


Just Being 

place. Had I seen the rooms before I engaged 
them I shouldn't have taken a place with such a 
desolate outlook ; but as we've had the expense 
of coming here, I don't mind staying if you 
undertake to have the beds changed ; and they 
must both be feather beds, too. Now, can you 
do this ? " 

" I'm afraid I can't ! " I said. " But if " 

" There can be no ifs ; I put everything 
quite clearly in my letter. I've got a copy of it 
here. I wrote " 

" My dear lady, if you will sit down in that 
easy-chair, we'll make everything still clearer." 
She was beginning to prance around the room. 

Dear, unmoved, was having a very thorough 
wash. So the light sleeper sank into the chair 
and rummaged in her hand-bag, presumably for 
the copy of the letter in question. 

I tried to speak as lightly and soothingly as 
possible, for she was fairly bursting with indig- 
nation ! " Now, please understand that I am 
delighted to give a meal to any wayfarer who, 
like yourself, arrives hungry and tired at my 
door. I'm glad for them to come in and have a 
rest, and even a wash and brush up, if they want 
it. But, when an absolute stranger, of whom I 
know nothing, demands my own bed, and my 
feather bed into the bargain, then I must protest 1 
That feather bed is one of my most cherished 
possessions ! " 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

" But you expected me ? " — sitting bolt 

" I certainly did not ! " 

" Didn't I write and tell you we would arrive 
to-day ? " 

" I've neither heard of you, nor from you, in 
my life before I " 

" But this is Rosemary Cottage ? " 

" It is." 

" Then you must be Miss Flabbers I " — with 
an air of finality. 

"I'm sorry, but I'm not I " 

At this, Dear dropped the soap with a sudden 
splosh into the water and looked round in frozen 
astonishment. (The merest wraith of it remained 
two hours later when Abigail emptied the water. 
It was a new cake, too I) 

At the name of Flabbers, Hght came. 
Miss Flabbers is a gentlewoman in somewhat 
reduced circumstances, who lives in a cottage a 
good mile and a half away. Presumably she 
was going to add to her income by taking in 

*' If it's Miss Flabbers whom you are wanting," 
I continued, fiUing up a painful silence, "her 
house is called Rose May Cottage. I expect 
you got the names confused in your mind." 

" There ! It's all your fault," said the ample 
one, turning irritably to her companion ; " you 
said it was Rose May Cottage when you read 


Just Being 

the first letter: but T said that was an absurd 
name, and it must be Rosemary it was intended 
for — country people do write so badly. I do 
wish, dear, you would be careful to be more 
accurate ; if only you had said the right name I 
might have been saved all this trouble — and 
expense, because of course I shall insist on 
paying for our tea — ^ — " (she didn't though I) 
"and think how many miles I've walked, and 
now I suppose I've to do it all again. How I 
wish I'd hstened to that old man at the station 
and gone with " 

She paused suddenly and threw up her hands ; 
and then there arose that cry common to all 
womankind the world over, when they are weary 
with their pilgrimage, footsore and travel-stained ; 
the cry that must have rent the air in the olden 
days when Sarai trailed after Abram across the 
plains of Mamre, even as it sounds to-day from 
Yokohama to Land's End : 

" Whereas our luggage f " 

There was a perceptible gasp — and then, 
" Yes ; where' s our luggage ? " faintly echoed 
Dear, as she nervously clutched her gloves with 
feverish haste and pinned them on her head, 
and then wildly tried to get her arms into her 

" I expect it's reposing peacefully in Miss 
Flabbers' best bedroom," I said assuringly. " At 
any rate it isn't here I " as I saw signs that they 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

were going to crawl under the bed in search of 
it. " The man would be sure to deliver it there, 
and " 

Abigail knocked at the door and asked if she 
could speak to me for a minute. 

When I got outside she said, "There's a 
person downstairs wants to see you particular, 
ma'am, or I wouldn't have disturbed you." 
Abigail divides all her sex into two classes, 
"persons" and "ladies," and no one is more 
careful than she to see that " persons " don't 
think more highly of themselves than their social 
status warrants. 

I found a pleasant-faced woman who lives in 
a cottage near Miss Flabbers. " Please, ma'am, 
Miss Flabbers has lost two ladies rather suddint, 
and I wondered if you'd chanced to set eyes on 
'em ? Miss Flabbers is that worrit as never was ; 
expected 'em by the eleven train, and I misdoubt 
me if the cutlets won't be a bit heavy by now, 
though she's had 'em over a saucepan of hot 
water ever since. She's so upset she don't know 
what to do, yet she can't go out to look for 'em 
in case they turns up meanwhile. I thought it 
'ud be just neighbourly if I went out for her and 
hunted around. 1 know they come by that 
train, for I see'd 'em myself at the station, 
puifeck ladies you'd have took 'em for, only they 
wouldn't have a fly. They're not friends, no, 
nor boarders, no, she wouldn't think of having 


Just Being 

boarders, so reserved as she is ; they're what's 
called paying guests. I know, because my son's 
got a friend in the Hargus office, and he told 
him about an adver-^isement she put in, only 
you wouldn't have known it was her, being only 
X Y Z on it, but the people at the Hargus knew 
as the X Y Z meant her, though how they 
should know puzzles me, and they send on the 
letters to her. But she's kep' it very private; 
no one knew they was coming, so I wouldn't 
dream of mentioning X Y Z to a soul. I've 
tracked 'em up here. Everybody all over the 
Common and even up to the Crag Farm has 
a-seed them, they've scoured the county for 
miles round. You'd be sure to rekernize them 
once you'd saw them " 

I should think so I E'en the slight hare- 
bell raised its head and stared after them 
whenever they passed it that afternoon, I'm 

By dint ot shouting above her talking I 
managed to get her to hear that I had them safe 
and sound ; and should be everlastingly grateful 
if she would take them off my hands and place 
them in the safe keeping of Miss Flabbers. 

Then I fetched them down and introduced 
the neighbourly soul, who, you could see, felt 
elated at the distinction of being the one to take 
such costumes in tow. 

" Better go out of the back door," I said, 

167 M 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

" and up the garden to the top gate ; it will save 
you a few steps." 

And then the ample one turned and said icily, 
" I suppose we must thank you for what you 
have done ; but I do think you should have told 
us sooner who you were." Yet I hadn't told 
them even then ! 

It was as they were going out of the back 
door that Dear amazed us by falling unexpectedly 
to her knees and affectionately clasping a dark 
object that I had not seen in the dim recess of 
the lobby. 

" Here's our trunks ! " she shrieked hysteri- 

And then both those women glared things 
unspeakable at me. They knew now, what they 
had only suspected before, that I was a deeply- 
dyed villainess with designs on them and their 

" What's this ? Why wasn't I told about 
it ? " I inquired of Abigail, who, naturally, was 
not missing a word. 

" Old Bob brought them while you were 
busy. He said they were for here, so of course 
I took them in, madam, as you said you were 
not to be disturbed," with an injured sniff", " and 
I've had no opportunity to tell you since." 

The two, true to the instincts of their sex, had 
promptly seated themselves on the trunks, and I 


Just Being 
feared they had no intention of budging unless 
the trunks went with them. But the neigh- 
bourly person was anxious to be on the move ; 
she wanted the kudos of walking through the 
village with them in the broad daylight, so she 
said — 

" They'll be all right ; my 'usband'll come 
round for them soon as we get back. Now 
don't you worrit the least Uttle bit." 

Thus they were got off at last. 

" Puffeck ladies," I said to myself as I seized 
the brown pitcher and the water-can, and went 
out to the spring. 

169 M 2 


Merely to be Prepared 

I couldn't have been asleep many minutes 
(though, when I come to think of it, no one 
ever is, in London), because I had waited up 
till eleven for Abigail. 

It was like this : the day before, cook had 
asked me if she might stay out till eleven that 
night, as she wanted to go and see an old lady 
in whose employ she had once been. The old 
lady was seriously ill; she couldn't get her off 
her mind ; and she felt she ought to give her 
what Httle pleasure she could, as she wouldn't 
be likely to get over it. 

I begged her to take the whole afternoon ; 
such affection was really touching. I saw myself 
in a few years' time, decrepit, aged, and infirm, 
being visited by a crowd of devoted retainers, 
who murmured one to another : 

" She had her faults, goodness knows, but 
at least we will scatter seeds of kindness ! " 

In any case, I was pleased for cook to take 
some extra time, as she is invariably home early 
— the Naval Division at the Crystal Palace have 
to be under glass by nine o'clock. 

She thanked me, but declined the afternoon, 
as she thought half-past nine or ten in the even- 
ing would suit the old lady best ; she was in a 
West End nursing home. It seemed late to 


Merely to be 

visit one who was so aged and so ill, but, of 
course, I gave the extended leave. 

She returned at 10.55, looking very bright, a 
bunch of roses in her coat-belt, a box of choco- 
lates danghng from her finger, and a programme 
in her hand. 

Yes, thank you ; she had had a lovely time. 
The old lady ? — er — oh, yes ! she was getting on 
nicely, thank you. 

Next day, Abigail came to me, also asking 
for an eleven o'clock leave. It transpired that 
she was expecting a little orphan cousin to arrive 
that night from Blackpool ; such a sad affair — 
child left without a father when it was only four 
years old — she was eight now. No, she hadn't 
ever seen the Httle cousin, but she felt it was 
such a distressing case that it was her duty to 
do what she could. 

I hinted that eleven o'clock at night seemed 
rather late for one who was so young and so 
orphaned to be up and about, and Ukewise 
offered her the afternoon. But she said the 
train didn't arrive sooner, and the trains were 
often late. So I gave her till 11.0 p.m. to 
welcome the pitiful orphan. 

She also arrived in at night looking radiant. 
Under her mackintosh she was wearing a pink 
chiffon dress, edged with swansdown ; a bandeau 
of sparkles was on her hair, a horseshoe of the 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

same make adorning the back of her head ; she 
carried a fan, and some flowers that had evidently 
been worn on the dress. 

I am glad to say that she, too, had enjoyed 
herself immensely, and the desolate relative had 
been most pleased to make her acquaintance. 

After that I retired. 

And then I conclude it was the bang that did 
it ; at any rate, the whole household woke with 
a start, and with one accord the feminine portion 
precipitated itself downstairs and on to the front 
door mat, and peered out into the dark road in 
the hope of seeing something ! 

The masculine element, being gifted with a 
faculty for keeping cool, calm and collected in 
any emergency, stayed to gather up a few wraps 
and rugs and overcoats and anything else he 
could lay his hands on in the dark (including his 
disreputable old gardening jacket), which he 
brought down and distributed among us, as we 
had not stopped for much in the way of clothing. 

At that moment Virginia and Ursula rushed 
along the road from their own house and joined 
us. Virginia was clad in a nightdress, with a 
mackintosh over it and a sumptuous pale blue 
kimono (covered with brown and black flying 
herons) on the top of the mac. Ursula was 
wearing her heliotrope dressing-gown, an ostrich 
feather boa, and an eiderdown quilt. 


Merely to be 

They both apologised for caUing so late 
(it was past midnight), but said they felt they 
should just Hke to talk things over. 

While I was bidding them welome, Miss 
Quirker (from round the corner) appeared ; Uke- 
wise Miss Thresher (a secondary-school mistress) 
and her friend Mrs. Brash, who share a flat near 
by ; and in the rear came Mrs. Ridley, the 
doctor's widow from across the road. 

They all said they had come because they 
could see "it" better from my house, which 
stands on a high point, overlooking London one 
way, and Kent from the other side. 

Each caller was grateful for the loan of a 

Meanwhile, in far less time than it takes to 
write all this, fire-engines and ambulances, and 
poUcemen and motor-cars and pedestrians 
appeared as by magic from nowhere and went 
tearing along the road. Yet, crane our necks as 
we would, not a gUmpse could we catch of " it." 

Miss Quirker — who always seems to have 
special and exclusive information about every- 
thing — said the creature was exactly over her 
bedroom chimney when the bomb was dropped ; 
she heard a strange whirring noise (described 
most graphically), and turned on the electric 
light for company ; then there was a brilliant 
flash in the sky (yes, she could see it above the 
electric light), and the bomb fell — she was sure 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

it was in her back garden. She looked very 
pleased with herself and superior, to think that 
she had been singled out by Fate for this special 
and distinctive visitation. 

The man of the house, after bidding us stay 
just where we were as he wouldn't be gone a 
minute, hied him buoyantly down the road in 
company with neighbouring mascuUnes — to find 
the bomb, I suppose. He soon returned, how- 
ever, with the exceedingly flat information that 
a gas explosion had occurred in a house further 
along, though they couldn't tell whether it was 
due to the geyser or the cooking-range, as they 
couldn't find either. 

[Later on, the remains of a geyser and part 
of a porcelain bath were picked up about six 
miles off, in the Walworth Road ; and I under- 
stand that the police at Sevenoaks found the 
remnants of an ahen gas-stove wandering about 
in a suspicious manner, and promptly interned 
it. But this is by the way.] 

" Only a gas explosion I " exclaimed everybody 
in doleful disappointment. Mrs. Brash certainly 
looked reheved ; but then she is a very nervous 
little woman with a weak heart. 

" Well, I call it too bad ! " said Virginia. 
" Every solitary relative, friend, and acquaintance 
I possess, even to the third and fourth generation, 
has had a Zepp cross ' right over their very road ' ; 
and every person I've met during the last twelve 


Merely to be 

months boasts and brags of the way they've had 
them 'exactly above their heads.' And yet, do 
what I will, I can't get a sight of even the tail 
of one." 

" Just my case," said everybody else in chorus ; 
" I seem to be the only one in London who 
hasn't seen one." 

But Miss Thresher cut short our bemoanings 
over the hardness of our lot, by saying in her 
head-mistress voice — 

"I'm afraid an excess of untutored imagina- 
tion is one of the weaknesses of this age. We, 
however, can console ourselves with the know- 
ledge that at least we are truthful; and truth, 
after all, is the greater asset " — looking wither- 
ingly at Miss Quirker. 

I repUed, " How about some hot coffee ? " 
It was the most appropriate remark that I could 
think of on the spur of the moment. 

Cook promptly offered to get it, while I went 
after tea-gowns and dressing-gowns and similar 
symbols of propriety for our shivering guests, 
who looked a trifle nondescript now that the 
lights were on. The man of the house had 
returned to assist at the explosion. 

If Miss Thresher hoped that her last remark 
would quelch Miss Quirker, she was mistaken 
nothing can suppress that lady, and nothing is 
sacred to her. She will stalk up to your secret 
cupboard, no matter how boldly you may have 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

labelled it " strictly private," and drag out into 
broad daylight the most disreputable skeleton 
you keep in it, the one you packed away at the 
very back of the top shelf — and then be pained 
at your ingratitude ! 

As I entered the room with an armful of 
apparel I heard her saying to Miss Thresher, 
" Why don't you put a flounce on the bottom ? 
Those cheap flannelettes always shrink in the 
wash. . . . Oh, flannel is it ? . . . Really ! no 
one would ever think you gave that much for it, 
would they ? At any rate I couldn't sleep if I 
didn't have them right down around my feet." 

To change the subject I asked Virginia why 
she had put her mac. on under her kimono, when 
obviously the correct order would have been to 
wear it outside. 

She said she concluded it was sheer genius 
and originality made her do it, for she had never 
worn such a combination in her life before ; and 
the same must have applied to Ursula, for, look- 
ing back on a varied and chequered career, she 
could never remember seeing her sister, even 
once, promenading the highway in an eiderdown 

At the same time, she inquired why it was 
that / had stood for a quarter of an hour on that 
doormat, clasping feverishly to my chest a pair 
of satin slippers and a bath towel, and clinging 


Merely to be 

pathetically to a bedroom candlestick; when 
obviously any candle would have blown out had 
I attempted to light it, and the bedroom slippers 
would have been more usefully employed on my 
shoeless feet ; while as for the bath towel. . . . ! 

The coffee came at that moment. I re- 
membered that some time ago the kitchen had 
been very interested in an article in one of the 
dailies, giving various directions as to what 
should be done in the case of bombs overhead. 
I forget a good deal of it, but I remember you 
had to lay mattresses all over the top floors before 
you came downstairs, and you had to dip a cloth 
in hyposulphate of something, and hold it to 
your nose as you came down to seek a place of 

The servants were rather taken with the 
mattress idea, said how simple it was, and that, 
as they had five mattresses between them, they 
would cover a good deal of floor space. I even 
generously offered them the two off* my own bed, 
if they would come down and fetch them as soon 
as the Zepps were heard, so long as they under- 
took to place them carefully above my head. 

When Abigail brought in the trays, I asked 
how many mattresses she had laid down. 

" 1 never gave 'em a thought," she owned up ; 
" my two legs seemed aU that mattered, for I was 
sure I saw the Zeppelin-thing looking straight 
in at my bedroom window — such sauce ! " 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

" Untutored imagination again ! " murmured 
Ursula in my ear. 

Nervous little Mrs. Brash said that was just 
the difficulty ; when it actually came to the point 
you could think of nothing that you ought to 
remember. Wouldn't it be well to talk the 
subject over and decide a few things — merely 
to be prepared — now that there was a group of 
us together. 

Miss Thresher, who loves the importance of 
being in any sort of office, enthused over the 
idea ; said we had better have a committee 
meeting there and then ; to be forewarned was 
to be forearmed, she told us, with an impressive 
air of wisdom. She said she would be Minute 
Secretary, and we must draw up schedules 
stating definitely and clearly what a woman 
ought to do, first by way of preparation 
beforehand, and secondly when the crisis actually 

Miss Quirker endorsed this, and remarked in 
an aggrieved tone (in my direction) that she 
should have thought the women's papers would 
have dealt comprehensively with so important a 
subject long ago. She added, however, that she 
thought " crisis " was far too respectable a name 
to give them ; had she not been a staunch Church- 
woman, she would have called them something 
far more vividly appropriate. I didn't hear the 
end of this, because I slipped away to find the 


Merely to be 

man of the house, as 1 had heard him return 

Opening the study door, my eyes fell on such 
an upheaval that for the moment I felt certain 
a gas explosion must have been at work there. 
But no ! He explained (turning out yet another 
drawer) that he was only looking for some 
insurance policies, as he wasn't quite certain 
what was the attitude of the companies towards 
geysers. I pointed out that it didn't matter as 
we hadn't one ; but he went on looking, and his 
face wore that tense expression seen on most 
men when hunting for the family screwdriver, 
or the pair of black gloves kept for funerals. 
Having found the policies at last (in the drawer 
where they had always been kept, by the way), 
I left him in peace, to peruse them at his leisure. 

The Ladies' Committee was well under way 
when I returned to the dining-room, and as is 
the correct thing at such gatherings, everybody 
was talking at once and on the most diverse 
topics. I consider myself rather great on ladies' 
committees ; I've even occupied the proud 
position of being in the chair, on occasion. And 
the more I see of them the more I am lost in 
admiration of the courage, versatiUty, and insup- 
pressibility of my sex. 

Why, there's no man living who could trail 
as many totally irrelevant topics across the 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

agenda, and in defiance of a politely pleading 
chairwoman too, as can the littlest and frailest 
woman at any ladies' committee you like to 

As it was, the only one who seemed within a 
hundred miles of Zeppelins was poor Mrs. Brash, 
who was explaining to Mrs. Ridley — 

" It isn't that I mind dying : we all have to 
die soTiie day : but I do prefer to die whole.''' 

Of course the doctor's widow pooh-poohed 
this as nonsense, and asked severely what would 
become of surgeons if everybody felt like that I 

Miss Thresher couldn't find a suitable heading 
for her schedule, till Ursula suggested "Anti- 
zeptics." Mrs. Ridley thought the medical 
profession might not approve of the unprofessional 
use of the word ; but it was accepted by the 
majority, and then we all settled down whole- 
heartedly to attack the problem from every 
point of view — which included, among other 
things, borax as a preventive for moth. Queen 
Mary's graciousness, a comparison of the respec- 
tive merits of local butchers, economising on 
corsets, and the War Loan. 

Perhaps you can't see how these came in, 
but it was simple enough. Miss Quicker said 
that, after all, explosions that you thought were 
Zeppelins weren't so bad if they enabled you to 
get such good coffee as mine ; and might she 
have a third lump of sugar, please ? it was such 

1 80 

Merely to be 

a treat to get a really sweet cup of coffee ; she 
had given up sugar at home as she was econo- 
mising on it. 

Being the hostess, I couldn't exactly tell her 
that I, too, was trying to economise on mine. 

From the high price of sugar we naturally 
floated on to the ruinous tendencies of butcher's 
meat, and Mrs. Brash explained the trouble she 
had with her butcher because he wouldn't send 
home all the bones. 

Mrs. Ridley had similar harrowments to 
relate about her butcher, but his vice took the 
form of sticking to the trimmings from the joints, 
which she was sure he sold at a good price for 
soap-making, now that fat was so scarce and 
soap likely to be dear. She knew it because — 
as she reminded us — she was the treasurer of the 
" Women's League for Encouraging the Troops 
to Wash," and it came very hard on their funds. 
What it would cost them for the cakes of soap 
they were going to send out no one would 
beheve ! (No, they hadn't sent any yet ; but of 
course they were going to, when they got enough 
members, and, by the way, would /join ?) 

She didn't mind a fair charge, of course (we 
all murmured agreement). War was war, and 
we must expect to pay something extra to help 
the King keep going; he had his family to 
provide for like any other man. Neither did she 
grudge one solitary penny that went to Lord 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

Kitchener (hearty applause). No, indeed I But 
what made her blood boil was to feel that she 
was actually washing her hands with her own 
ribs — and at one-and-threepence-halfpenny a 
pound, too 1 

Virginia suggested she should try a rather 
less heating soap ; but she was drowned by 
Miss Thresher, who said firmly, " Borax ; that's 
what you ought to send to the troops. Not 
only would it soften the water for them, poor 
things — and no one knows better than I do 
what awfully hard stuff that German water is ; 
nearly scraped my skin off when I went up the 
Rhine two years ago — but they would find it so 
useful to put in with their woollen things that 
we've been knitting them, to keep out the 

My reminder that our troops were not as 
yet, alas ! drawing their water from German 
cisterns was unnoticed ; for the mere mention of 
moth produced extraordinary animation. Was 
borax good ? Weren't they a perfect nuisance ? 
and so on. I said I always put it in with my 
furs, and never had a moth near them. 

" I wonder if that's what they put with 
Queen Mary's furs," said Mrs. Brash. " I never 
saw more lovely sables than those she had on 
when she came to the hospital yesterday." 

Miss Thresher verified this last statement, 
absolutely superb they were, and Miss Thresher 


Merely to be 

had a right to speak, for the Queen had bowed 
straight at her, as she stood on the kerb, " as 
near to her as I am to you." 

Miss Quirker said that for her part she didn't 
think there was another woman in the world so 
gracious as Queen Mary — except of course 
Queen Alexandra. She would bow to anyone 
she saw, no matter how shabby they were. 

Mrs. Brash hurriedly said what she so 
much admired in Queen Alexandra was her 

Miss Quirker continued, " Yes, and speaking 
of corsets I want to tell you of another economy 
besides doing without sugar to help the nation. 
You should buy your corsets several sizes larger 
than usual, and then when they are getting 
worn, you can turn them upside down and wear 
them the other way up. It's so saving." 

Ursula said she quite believed it, because she 
knew, if she turned her long corsets upside down, 
they would reach high enough up to support the 
military collar at the back of her neck, and thus 
save boning. 

I felt it was high time we got back to 
" Antizeptics," and suggested that we should 
put something in the first column of the 
schedule, which was headed : " Things to place 
in readiness beforehand." 

Mrs. Brash announced that she wasn't ever 
going to take her clothes off any more till the 

183 N 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

war was over, if this was the sort of goings-on 
we were to expect. 

General opinion, however, was decidedly in 
favour of, at any rate, removing the outside 
frock, simply because we none of us saw any 
prospect of ever being able to afford to buy a 
new one. 

Then we all said what we thought ought to 
go into that column. WooUen undies, a fur- 
lined coat, a thick dressing-gown, a raincoat, a 
travelling rug, and all sorts of other things, were 
to be placed close to the bedside. This was insisted 
upon as a matter of the greatest importance ; 
otherwise, in the dark, we should never find 
anything, and of course it wouldn't be safe to 
have a light. 

Miss Thresher and Miss Quirker had a small 
sub-committee on the subject of stockings — 
should they be worn all night in bed ? Miss 
Thresher said obviously it was the only sensible 
course. Miss Quirker objected that she should 
kick hers off in her sleep in any case, hers was 
such a delicate skin (as a child people had always 
remarked on it), though probably women less 
sensitive than herself might be able to endure 
them. But if she lost hers among the bedclothes 
she would never find them in the dark. 

Eventually they compromised by agreeing to 
safety-pin a pair to the front of the nightdress 
(as they fasten your handkerchief to you in the 


Merely to be 

hospital), so that at least they would know where 
to find them in case of precipitate flight. 

Meanwhile the question, " Should hats be 
worn ? " necessitated Ursula and Mrs. Brash 
going into another sub-committee on the lounge. 
Mrs. Brash favoured a shawl — preferably white — 
being draped over the head ; it was more suited 
to the neglige condition of the hair. This led her 
to consult Ursula about the winter's hat she was 
evolving. She had had an exceedingly good white 
and black crinoline hat the summer before last, 
and the winter before last she had had a very 
lovely violet velvet toque — the rich deep colour 
favoured by Queen Alexandra. 

Last winter she had taken the violet velvet 
from the hat of the winter before, and put it 
over the crinoline hat of the summer before (you 
can follow this, I hope ?), and everybody had 
admired it. Now she proposed to return the 
violet velvet to its original toque, only this time 
she would smother it with some violets she had 
by her, and she had a really beautiful little sable 
skin which she proposed to put round the brim. 
Did Miss Ursula think the violets and the fur 
would combine well ? 

Ursula said she herself didn't care for fur 
and flowers in combination, because she always 
associated sables with snowy northern regions, 
whereas violets suggested soft spring days and 
awakening woods and gardens. 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

Mrs. Brash, who had never thought of putting 
things together in that way before, said how very 
poetic it was. Then would Miss Ursula think 
that quills would look better ? After all, birds 
and flowers went together. 

Ursula agreed, and added that she had even 
found the neighbours' fowls scratting up the 
white violets one day. Mrs. Brash seemed to 
feel that was conclusive proof of the desirabihty 
of the combination. And in that case, should 
the quills tilt outwards or inwards ? No, she 
didn't mean inside the hat, of course, but across 
the top or off* the head ? . . . Yes, perhaps it 
would be the best to tilt them backwards, and 
she should fasten them with a large cameo that 
had belonged to the late Mr. Brash's mother 
(prohfic details as to the grasping character of 
Mrs. Brash, senior, who had never given her a 
thing except this cameo). 

Finally, she aired her only anxiety — would 
the shape of the winter-before-last toque still be 
worn this winter ? Ursula assured her that the 
shapes of the winter-before-last will be worn till 
the war is over, and by that time we shall have 
become so attached to them that we shall refuse 
to part with them. 

After we had collected a fairly comprehensive 
pile of clothes — including most we possessed — 
and placed it all close beside the bed, jewellery 

1 86 

Merely to be 

came under discussion. Naturally no one wanted 
to lose even the smallest tiara, and we were aU 
quite sure the Government wouldn't include 
jewellery in the insurance. So we collected our 
trinkets and placed them on top of the garments. 
It was astonishing how much we each seemed to 
possess, and how careful we were to enumerate 
it all. Mrs. Brash enlarged tearfully and at 
great length on the diamond necklace her 
late husband had given her. 

This opened up a wider question. How 
about silver plate ? Yes, how about the silver ? 
each one echoed. Was it Hkely we were going 
to hand over our teapots, shoeUfts, candlesticks, 
pin-boxes, spoons and forks, hair-brushes, entree- 
dishes, and photo-frames to the enemy? No, 
indeed not 1 So we all lugged our plate-chests 
to the bedside ; though Miss Thresher said she 
should put hers all into a laundry bag and hang 
it on the bedpost ; it would be easier to carry 
that way. 

Then a number of side issues cropped up. 
Virginia had just invested in the War Loan ; 
there was her scrip. Mrs. Brash couldn't think 
of leaving behind the portrait of her great- 
grand-uncle, the admiral (always thus referred 
to, as though no other had ever existed), where- 
upon we all remembered we had ancestral 
portraits calling for preservation — after all, it 
doesn't look well if you haven't 1 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

Miss Quirker decided she would take the 
bedspread she had crocheted for their forth- 
coming Red Cross bazaar (but didn't intend to 
give it to them now it was finished ; it was far 
too pretty. Besides, the secretary had only put 
her name in small type among " other ladies 
helping" below the stallholders, and just think 
how she had slaved over that bazaar !). 

Mrs. Ridley said that whatever else went, 
she meant at all costs to save the presentation 
clock given to her late husband by a very 
celebrated patient, whose name she was not at 
Hberty to state. I'm inchned to think this was 
mentioned as a set-off against Mrs. Brash's 
diamond necklace ; the late Mr. Brash, though 
an admirable husband, did not seem to have 
generated anything remarkable in the way of 
public esteem, whereas the late Dr. Ridley was 
known to be anything but generous. 

Mrs. Ridley had no diamonds ; but the clock 
was of solid granite, made on the model of a 
pyramid. It was surmounted by a coy-looking 
sphinx, representing about a quarter of a hundred- 
weight of bronze metal. Accompanying the 
pyramid — one at each end of the mantelpiece — 
was a pair of heavy granite obelisks (like 
Cleopatra's Needle, but just a size smaller). It 
took both the servants to Uft the clock every 
time the mantelpiece was dusted, Mrs. Ridley 
explained with pride. Besides, the obelisks were 


Merely to be 

very useful to hang her knitting bag on, and so 
appropriate too, with our brave lads out there 
rallying round and defending the poor sphinx 
from the Turks. (Virginia whispered in my ear, 
it was no wonder the bronze lady looked so 
cheerful. ) 

So of course these weighty items joined the 
jewellery at the bedside. 

Other valuables rapidly suggested themselves ; 
also more sordid things, such as matches and 
candles, a tin of biscuits, and a small stove and 
kettle, for use if we had to sit out in the road all 
night gazing at a ruined home. 

And of course we placed pails of sand and 
buckets of water close at hand, to use if it should 
be an incendiary bomb. (I hoped I shouldn't 
hop out of bed straight into the water !) 

Here Ursula reminded me that the pile of sand 
placed on the platform of our London station 
several months (or was it years ?) ago, for Anti- 
zeptic treatment, was now sprouting luscious 
grass ; obviously the lawn-mower and garden- 
roller must be added to the bedside museum. 

But I told her afterwards, she had better 
keep quiet if she lacks the ability to grasp the 
strenuosity of any situation where a group of 
conscientious women are conversing on the 
subject of "doing something." As it was, her 
remark only incited Miss Quirker to spend a 
tedious five minutes in explaining to her how 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

impossible it would be for a single woman, with 
only one maid, to get the garden-roller upstairs, 
and another ten in giving her recipes for exter- 
minating grass ; while Mrs. Ridley went off at 
a tangent on the shortage of gardeners, and the 
advantages of paraffin over fish-oil as a lubricant 
for mowing-machines. 

I only succeeded in getting her back to the 
agenda, by begging her to advise us, as she was 
such an authority on paraffin, whether to take 
an oil-stove or a spirit-lamp for the outdoor 

At length, when any ordinary bedroom must 
have been packed quite full, and suggestive of a 
furniture depository, Virginia's voice rose above 
the babel — 

" But what I want to know is, how am I ever 
going to get into bed ? " 

" You may well ask I " said her sister. 
" Look at the time ! Just you come along home 
with me. I'll show you. Where's my eider- 
down ? " 

Miss Thresher besought them to stay a few 
minutes longer, merely to decide what to do 
when the Zeppelins actually arrived. But Ursula 
said they had got all their work cut out to get 
through the preparatory stages of the schedule. 

So the Committee adjourned. 

As they went out, a figure came out of the 

Merely to be 

kitchen side entrance and made for the coach- 
house, carrying a big cardboard box. 

" Is anything the matter, Abigail ? " I asked. 

" No'm ! I'm only hiding aU our best hats in 
the stable ; I expect they'll be less Ukely to find 
them there." 

" But the Zepps aren't exactly like burglars I " 
I said. 

"No, I suppose they're not," she replied, 
"but when a creature Uke that Kaiser gets 
nosing about among the stars, as well as trying 
to rampage all over the earth, there's no teUing 
ivliat he'll be up to next. It's as well to be 



Where the Road Led 
Over the Hills 

Next morning I was a wreck. Virginia and her 
sister were the same. 

For a week past I had realised that I was in 
the last stage of mental and physical disrepair. 
The midnight committee was the final straw. 

As a rule, I stick at work in town till nerves 
and brain refuse to hold out another day ; then, 
flinging my tools down, and leaving both my 
office desk and my study table in a hopeless and 
bewildering state of piled-up letters, MSS. and 
proofe, I just fly — a goodly bale of arrears 
following me by next post. 

I had had practically no holiday owing to the 
war, and had reached that forlorn and useless 
frame of mind when I declared 1 was far too 
busy to take one — a very mistaken notion for 
anyone to have, by the way ; it is surprising how 
weU most of us can be done without when we 
do at last take a little time off duty ! 

However, 1 had just one faint glimmer of 
common sense left me, and that told me to take 
the first train going west next morning, which I 
did, leaving Paddington (in company with 
Virginia and Ursula, who had a holiday due to 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

her from the hospital) in a warm close fog that 
might imply a thunderstorm, or an early autumn, 
or merely the ordinary airless carbonic-acid gloom 
that is a distinguishing feature of London. Some 
eminent authority has said that the air in London 
hasn't been changed for over a hundred years, 
and I can quite beUeve it ! 

We found the cottage bathed in the glow of 
the soft sunshine that is still summer, but that 
brings with it the first touch of regret for the 
good-bye that is near at hand. There had been 
some soaking rains after a dry spell, and every- 
thing in the garden was holding up bright, 
refreshed leaves, and glowing flowers, one and all 
assuring me that though they had a gasping time 
a few weeks before, and had wondered from day 
to day if they could manage to hold on till the 
evening, things had now taken a glorious turn 
for the better ; and they were glad they hadn't 
given up, since I was so pleased to see them. 

Several apologised for ragged washed-out 
blossoms lower dowTi their stem, but explained 
that it was due to the rain, and that they were 
sending up new ones to take the place of the 
shabby ones as quickly as ever they could. 

The dear things seemed to look at me with 
such understanding sympathy ; the pansies held 
up their bright Httle faces just Hke a bevy of 
inquiring children ; the hollyhocks, I am sure, 
turned round to look in my direction ; the last 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

of the sweet peas threw out tender httle fingers 
to touch my arm as I passed beside their hedge ; 
the golden rod stretched its neck and tiptoed 
lest I should miss it at the back of the border. 

Haven't you noticed that most flowers seem 
to have faces ? I don't mean that you can trace 
a direct resemblance to human features in them 
as you can in the moon ; but there is something 
in the flowers that looks at you — something that 
looks at you shyly, as the wild rose ; or stares 
at you boldly, like the marigold ; or twinkles at 
you gaily, like the cornflower and coreopsis ; or 
appears shghtly inclined to frivoUty, like the 
larkspur and the ragged robin ; or takes life with 
soUd seriousness, like the Canterbury bell; or 
gives you the innocent look of a baby, like the 
primrose ; or beams at you with large-hearted 
maternal kindness, Uke a big gloire de Dijon. 

Most flowers, you will find, give you a look 
with some definite characteristic — at least, so it 
seems to me. Probably that is one reason why 
they are so comforting and companionable. 

And I was wanting something comforting 
and companionable that day. I had overworked 
and generally neglected the rules of common 
sense, till I had got to that dismal pitch that 
simply asks of blank space, " What's the good 
of anything ? " 

Then more questions began to worry me. 

What had Christianity accomplished, seeing 

Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

the way the Sermon on the Mount was being 
trampled under foot by the instigators of this 
war ? After all, wasn't might going to win, in 
spite of all one believed of the supremacy of 
right ? Wasn't the devil having things all his 
own way now ? What were Christians doing ? 
Had reUgion lost its power? What were the 
churches doing ? Was anybody doing anything 
worth whiles ? 

Those who have let themselves run down 
physically, and have neglected to take proper 
meals, and have turned night into day, and have 
tried systematically to cram a fortnight's work 
into every week, know exactly where one finds 
oneself at the end of a few months. 

And it is only the very exceptional people 
who do not find their spiritual condition about 
as jaded as their nerves after a course of this sort 
of thing. We get to feel that we are ploughing 
a very lone furrow, and it is only a step further 
to the state of mind that says it isn't worth 
ploughing at all. 

Personal experience has taught me that there 
is only one cure for me when I get to this state 
of nervous wreckage ; and that is to get away 
to the solitudes ; to Hsten among the great 
silences of the hills for the still small Voice 
that has never failed those who wait for its 

God's methods of restonng weary humanity 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

are many and various. Sometimes He sees that 
first and foremost, like Elijah, His tired children 
need rest and food. And just as one of the 
greatest terrors that can befall the worn-out 
worker in a city is insomnia, so one of the 
greatest boons that Nature in her quietudes 
bestows is the ability to drop off into peaceful, 
brain-mending oblivion. 

So He giveth His beloved sleep. 

Or it may be that He sees His children need 
to be drawn away from the world for a while, in 
order to talk face to face with Him. Sometimes 
we have to be brought to a state of great weak- 
ness before we will Usten to His plea : " Come ye 
yourselves apart and rest awhile." We do not 
always heed it when we are well and strong. 
In the enforced quiet we can find time to turn 
to Him. 

And a sojourn with our Lord in the desert 
has meant for many the feeding of five thousand 
on the morrow. 

When I am badly in the depths, I know of 
no surer way to restore my mind than a long 
walk across the hills. Some people need human 
companionship ; but, personally, I can do very 
well by myself under such circumstances (always 
provided that I don't meet a cow Hkewise on a 
walking tour). I can pull myself together more 
quickly if I don't have to spend time and energy 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

striving to be amiable and politely attentive to 

I have often started out on a Sunday morning, 
and walked on till I came upon some unknown 
church that served as a useful end to my 
pilgrimage. On one occasion I remember dis- 
covering a small chapel hidden away among a 
few homesteads in a pretty valley I unexpectedly 
tumbled into. They were starting the first hymn 
as I entered. There were nine of us all told, 
including the preacher, the two ladies who raised 
two different tunes simultaneously, and the 
rugged-faced deacon or elder, who brought me a 
hymnbook and, later, took the collection. 

The singing was not a marked success at first, 
owing partly to the divided opinion of the con- 
gregation as to which tune they were really 
singing ; moreover, my entrance had momentarily 
diverted attention and seemed to make all con- 
cerned a trifle nervous. But at length the 
preacher himself started a third tune that we 
all knew and were able to join in ; and a very 
sincere and devout service followed. 

I gathered from information impressed upon 
us in the course of the sermon (probably for 
my special benefit, as the handful of cottagers 
assembled would assuredly know) that there was 
to be a special collection that day on behalf of 
some chapel fund. 

When I told this to Ursula, who didn't then 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

know so much about our hill-people as she does 
now, she said, " Ah ! I suppose that was why 
only nine came ! " 

But, in reality, nine was not at all a poor 
congregation for a tiny hamlet like this on a 
Sunday morning. The mothers are mostly at 
home getting dinner ; the fathers are seeing to 
the stock, and don't reckon to get themselves 
"cleaned up" till the afternoon. But in the 
evening — then the little building would be 
packed to the door. 

In his final prayer the minister prayed so 
earnestly that we might all be induced to give 
with the greatest liberality, that I felt exceed- 
ingly sorry I had only put a half-crown into my 
glove when I started out, leaving my purse at 

The rugged elder looked studiously in the 
opposite direction while I sHpped the coin on to 
the plate ; somehow I hoped he wouldn't be 
too disappointed when he discovered that the 
respectable-looking stranger had not given more 
handsomely after the pleading of the preacher. 
But it was all I had. 

After the service I Hngered a moment to read 
a quaint old tombstone in the church precincts. 
The rest of the worshippers hkewise lingered — 
respectful but curious — in the road outside the 
gate. The preacher had shaken hands with me 
at the door ; my rugged friend had been immersed 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

in the duties of his office as steward, treasurer, 
and church secretary combined. But now he 
came out of the door, looked anxiously about, 
and seeing me still there, made straight for me. 
I concluded that he, too, was going to shake 
hands, and possibly inquire if I was staying in 
the neighbourhood. But what he actually said 
was this — 

" Excuse me, ma'am, but do you happen to 
know what you put into the plate ? " 

" A half-crown," I faltered, wondering whether 
by any remote chance it was a bad one. 

He nodded his head, and, opening his work- 
hardened hand, displayed the morning's collection 
— seven pennies, three halfpennies, and my half- 
crown on top. 

"That's right," he nodded. And then, 
lowering his voice, presumably to save my 
feelings, he added, " But if 'twas a mistake, and 
you didn't mean to put in all that, you can have 
it hack." 

Do you know, it made a lump come in my 

I told Ursula about it at dinner, remarking 
that it looked as though they hadn't much faith 
even though they had specially prayed for 
generous giving. 

Ursula said that in her opinion it looked as 
though it was high time I presented to the rag- 

199 o 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

bag the hat I had worn that morning, since it 
had been for months past a dejected object of 
pity, though with her usual dehcacy of feeUng 
she had, up to the present, refrained from telling 
me so in plain Enghsh. But now, in all kind- 
ness such as only a dear friend can show, she had 
no hesitation is saying that she wasn't at aU 
surprised that they mistook me for an old age 
pensioner on the verge of bankruptcy. 

But I've been wandering again. To return 
to that September day when I reached the 
cottage as weary of life and as downhearted 
about everything as any mortal could well be. 
The whole world seemed out of joint. Yet in 
my innermost soul I knew that religion was really 
all right, and that it was I who had gone wrong. 
But I refused to look at that aspect of it. 

Next day I determined to give it all up, and 
just meditated on my own funeral. I tried to 
reckon up how many people I could really rely on 
to send wreaths ; it didn't make me feel any the 
less pessimistic when I decided there were only 
four who could be counted upon as certainties, 
and they included Virginia and Ursula ! 

And even one of these failed me ; for when 
I mentioned the matter to the girls, they 
said : Surely I didn't imagine they were going to 
be so wasteful as to send two wreaths, when one 
would do quite as well if both their names 


Where the Road 
led over the Hilts 

appeared on the card attached ? But they did 
offer to make it a wreath of painted-white-tin 
flowers, under a glass shade (regardless of 
expense), if I preferred, suggesting that I might 
get longer pleasure out of a wreath of this kind. 

Getting no more consolation from them than 
this, I said I would go for a walk. Virginia and 
Ursula anticipated my wishes and decUned to 
accompany me. They had urgent work on hand 
that was far too important to postpone for a 
mere walk. It was the planting of onion seed. 

The week before we had read in the papers 
how imperative it was that everybody should 
plant food crops in any available scrap of ground 
they might possess, to help keep starvation at 

We read the article eagerly. 

I had several acres of land doing nothing in 
particular at the moment, that I was only too 
glad to use for a special crop of eatables against 
the time of national famine. Without finishing 
the article, we had started to discuss what would 
be best to lay down, taking into account the 
idiosyncrasies of our digestions. 

" Green peas in the small field adjoining the 
orchard," Ursula had decided for me ; and then 
she proceeded ; " Broad beans in half of the 
upper garden ; scarlet runners at the back of the 
strawberry beds and along by the south wall ; 
the potato garden can now have carrots, parsnips, 

201 O 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

turnips and beets ; the west garden must have 
pickled cabbage (I mean the cabbage before it is 
pickled), shallots, spring onions and pickling 
onions, chives " 

" What are * chives ' ? " interrupted Virginia. 

" I don't know, but I've read the name some- 
where. Don't interrupt me." 

"And fennel — that will come in handy for 
fish — and leeks. In that piece of waste ground 
beyond the barn I think we ought to plant 
asparagus, because, after aU, there is no need to 
dispense with luxuries if you can grow them for 
nothing, is there ? 

" And how would it be to plant maize all down 
that bed where you had the Shirley poppies? 
I should think the same aspect would suit the 
two, and some green corn would be very nice. 
I suppose, if you plant it now, it will be about 
right in January or February, wouldn't it ? Or 
you could sell it. It's twopence halfpenny or 
threepence a cob at the Stores. So if you had, 
say, fifty plants, and if each produced — how 
many do they produce on a plant ? . . . Oh, well, 
if you don't know, let's be on the safe side and 
say one each — that would be a clear profit of — 
well, at threepence each — let's see, fifty pence is 
four and twopence, and three times would be — 
twelve and sixpence — say twelve shillings, allow- 
ing sixpence for seed. So that would be well 
worth tiying, in case the moratorium never ends. 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

Then there would have to be cabbages and 
suchhke. How about digging up the orchard, 
and " 

" Oh, yes," said Virginia scornfully (she had 
picked up the paper and read to the end of the 
aforementioned article, which had proved very 
enlightening). " And I suppose you expect it 
all to grow under a couple of feet of snow. Let 
me tell you that it is now too late to plant 
anything but onions 1 He, she, or it, who wrote 
this article, says so." 

I myself had been going to tell her, when I 
could get a word in, that it was too late for most 
of the things she had named. 

But Ursula, who had never done any vegetable 
gardening, was still sceptical. That was why I 
suggested that we should consult the obliging 
manager at Carter's, in Queen Victoria Street, 
as we often did over our gardening woes. 

Just ahead of us in the shop, when we got 
there, was an elderly gentleman who wanted 
some grass seed ; he asked if they would tell him 
how to start a lawn next spring. 

It was in the middle of the day — a very busy 
time for a shop of this kind, when city men are 
on their way to or from lunch, and seize a few 
extra minutes to buy their seeds. The shop was 
full — it looked as though every scrap of land 
within the twelve-mile radius was going to be 
put under cultivation — and the assistants had all 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

their work to serve everyone as quickly as they 
wanted to be served. 

The Elderly Gentleman was apparently the 
only one who was not in a hurry ; so he asked 
the most minute questions, and the manager 
gave him copious directions, from preparing the 
ground at the start, right up to marking it off 
for tennis, when it was in its prime (though, 
judging by the small packet of seed the E. G. 
had bought, the lawn would never support a 

Then by the time the shop was quite packed, 
and when everything that was possible appeared 
to have been said about planting and maintaining 
a lawn — including keeping it free from moss, the 
best way to trim the edges, the law with regard 
to trespassing fowls, and the careful tying of 
black cotton over the newly-planted seeds to 
keep off the birds — the E. G. asked what 
he should do when daisies came up ? The 
manager said patiently that his firm's grass seeds 
didn't produce daisies ; but as the E. G. seemed 
to worry about daisies, he was told how to get 
rid of daisies. 

At last he really went, reluctantly, I admit ; 
but the other customers — who had all become so 
engrossed in his lawn that they couldn't remember 
what they had come in to buy for themselves — 
heaved a sigh of relief. 

Slowly he made his way to the middle of the 

Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

wide crossing just in front of the shop. You 
knew by his hesitating walk that there was 
another question he had meant to ask, but he 
couldn't recall it for the moment. 

Yes ! He suddenly turned round briskly (and 
nearly ended the lawn under a taxi), the shop- 
door opened again, and an anxious voice inquired, 
" What ought I to do if the birds get at the 
seeds in spite of the black cotton and the bits of 
white rag tied to them ? " 

The manager passed his hand across what 
looked Hke an aching brow, and further braced 
himself to do his duty ; but a gentleman customer 
came to the rescue by replying, "It is usual, in 
such a case, sir, to buy another packet of grass 
seed, and start all over again on exactly the same 
lines as before, only you plant an extra reel of 
black cotton this time." 

After this we were able to inquire of the 
manager what crops he would advise us to plant 
as our contribution to the nation's larder, to say 
nothing of our own. 

" Onions," he said, so promptly that one 
would have thought others had asked the same 
question. And then added — " Giant Rocca." 

I am not sure how many pounds of seed 
Ursula immediately ordered; she proposed to 
make it a present to me, and naturally wished to 
be generous. Virginia says she beUeves she 
heard her say a half-a-hundredweight. Anyhow, 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

the obliging manager asked, with a slight cough, 
how large a portion of ground we were intending 
to cultivate, as half an ounce would be sufficient 
for — I forget how many acres ! So she reduced 
her order to half a pound. She said she didn't 
want us to run short. (I don't fancy we shall, 
either !) Besides, she rather liked the name 
"Giant Rocca." It suggested something large 
and strengthening wherewith to combat the foe. 

We hadn't a moment's rest after we arrived 
at the cottage until the onion seed was well 
underground. Ursula decided that it would be 
really a blessing if I would go out — she could 
then plant in peace. 

The handy man being unable to " oblige " me 
by doing a Uttle work just then, she had decided 
to plant the seeds herself. 

At first she had made long troughs in which 
to place the seed, sprinkling it very finely with 
thumb and finger ; but after half an hour of this 
spine-breaking work she straightened her back 
with difficulty, and decided that to " sow broad- 
cast " was more in accordance with Nature herself, 
to say nothing of Bibhcal teaching. Hence we 
had it broadcast. 

Here I may say that we eventually had 
Giant Roccas sown the length and breadth of 
the vegetable garden, in between the rows of 
spring greens, as well as in open spaces ; also 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

they are sending up their spears between rows of 
snapdragons ; round standard rose-trees ; in the 
beds usually devoted to Darwin tuUps ; down 
the narrow bed that has Persian irises in the 
centre and double daisies at the edge ; in the 
rough bed of foxgloves at the back of the pigsty, 
along the edge of the borders where sweet 
alyssum bloomed in the summer ; under the 
damson tree where the ground is bare ; along by 
the south wall, where the sweet pea remains 
were pulled up to make room for them ; among 
the raspberry canes ; all over the potato-patch ; 
along with the carnation cuttings in the cold 
frame ; in little dibbles among the strawberry 
plants ; and I even found a few pots, each with 
a bit of glass over the top, placed in the sunny 
scullery window, which also proved to be " Giant 
Roccas," in case we should run short indoors. 

When all these Roccas have attained to their 
gigantic proportions, I fancy we shall be able to 
scent that garden a mile or two away 1 

Still, the onions were only being planted the 
day I set out for a walk, wandering just where 
the road might chance to lead me. But you 
have to take yourself with you, if you go for a 
walk, and it is some time before you can get 
away from yourself — if you can make out what 
I mean by this. 

I merely walked on and on, looking at the 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

blackbirds gobbling down the red mountain ash 
berries, till one gasped at their stowing-away 
capacity ; at the swallows practising their long 
sweeping flights preparatory to leaving us ; at 
the ferns growing out of the shady side of the 
walls ; at a great patch of rich purple in the 
corner of a field — that turned out to be a wide- 
spread tangle of flowering vetch ; at the beautiful 
colour effect of massed heliotrope Michaelmas 
daisies against the grey-green background of a 
mossy fern-decked old stone wall ; at the hare- 
bells swinging in the wind ; at the late foxgloves, 
still poking beautiful spikes of colour through 
the hedges ; at the blackberries trailing over 
everything ; at the butterflies still flitting about, 
or resting motionless with outspread wings where 
they found a warm sunny stone, or gorging them- 
selves to repletion on some over-ripe pears that 
had fallen by the roadside. There were several 
lovely creatures with blue-black wings marked 
with red, white and a little blue, who, like the 
wasps, were actually intoxicated with pear juice ! 

A fox slunk across the road right in front 
of me, and plunged into a wood ; probably hav- 
ing the time of his Hfe just now, with most of 
the hunt somewhere in France. 

The springs were coming to life again, after 
the heavy rain, and water burbled along at the 
side of the lane, or tumbled out from the rocks 
at the roadside in tiny waterfalls. 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

The orchard trees were flecked all over with 
gold, or pale yellow, or bright crimson — surely 
we never had a more abundant apple year than 
this one. 

It was such a wonderful afternoon : I was 
bound to go on wandering. 

At last I came to the end of the lanes and 
found myself on an open hilltop. As the fresh 
bracing air met me full in the face, I began to 
feel hungry. I looked at my watch : it was five 
o'clock. I looked at the landscape, and realised 
that, though I didn't know where I was, I was 
certainly miles away from any tea. 

I paused and considered : Should I carefully 
retrace my steps ? That always seems a poor- 
spirited way of getting home again, even though 
you are lost ! On all sides stretched an expanse 
of hilly country, grey Hchen-covered boulders, 
yellow-flowered gorse, wiry mauve and purple 
heather, and a wealth of green, and bronze, and 
golden tinted bracken, with occasional woods 
and larch plantations. There was a general hum 
of bees and insects in the air, and a pheasant 
rose from the ground close to me and flew with 
a whirr into a little coppice near by. 

A sign-board was lying on the ground by the 
gate leading into the coppice. It was the worse 
for wind and weather, but one could still read 
the alarming warning, " Trespassers will be prose- 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

cuted ! " Who would trespass, and who would 
prosecute, on that wild bit of moorland, I wonder ? 
The only being in sight was a rabbit, sitting 
motionless close beside the prostrate notice and 
studying me silently with the air of a special 
constable I Yet even he went off and left me 
quite alone. 

At that moment I caught sight of a chimney 
over the spur of the hill. I felt convinced it 
must be attached to a fireplace, and surely there 
would be a kettle on that fire. I made a bee- 
line for the place. 

To the eye of the town-dweller, hill and 
moorland distances are apt to be deceptive ; the 
house proved to be much farther off than I had 
at first imagined. But this gave added zest to 
expedition ; I determined to reach it though 1 
only arrived in time to put up there for the night. 
A nearer view showed the cottage to be the 
fag-end of a small hamlet lying snugly in the 
protecting hollow of the hills. 

When I actually entered the village, there 
were so many pretty dwellings, and they all 
looked equally inviting, that I was undecided 
where to open an attack. However, I settled 
on one that had a couple of hollyhocks, some late 
pinks, and a black-currant bush growing out of 
the top of the garden wall, while a free-and-easy 
grape-vine, a tall monthly rose, and some clematis 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

waved arms of welcome to me from the front of 
the cottage. 

Just as I approached the gate, a pleasant-faced 
woman came out of the door and walked down 
the garden path between the French marigolds 
that edged the flower-beds. She was the only 
sign of life in the place (apart from a few belated 
hens, who, being averse to early rising, I suppose, 
had determined to take time by the forelock, and 
were catching the historic early worm overnight). 

I felt that the good lady's appearance was a 
distinct indication that Fate had decided I must 
have my tea there. Nevertheless, there were 
signs that she was bound on some important 
errand; instead of the ordinary sun-bonnet or 
battered hat that is the usual weekday headgear 
among our hills, she had donned a carefully- 
brushed though somewhat rusty black bonnet, 
and a black beaded mantle of unquestionable 
antiquity, both worn with the air of her Sunday 

" Good evening," I began. " I'm sorry to 
trouble you, but I wonder if you can tell me 
where " 

"Th' chapel?" replied the woman before I 
could finish my sentence. " Why, of course you 
can't find 'un. But you jes' come 'long wi' me. 
I'm going there meself, an' though we'm a bit late, 
it don't matter; my man '11 be keeping a seat 
fur me, and ther'U be room, sure 'nough, for 'ee 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

to squeeze in too. I do al'ays tell 'un our chapel 
didn't oughter belong where 'tis. No place o' 
worship was ever more hid out o' road than ourn. 
Yet my man do say 'tis clear 'nough to see 'un if 
you'm comin' 'long the lower road ; for there 'tis 
all to once. But as I say to him, the folk don't 
all a-come down 'long the lower road ; an' if you 
come up 'long, why, there's no chapel to be seen, 
and then where'm you to ? What I do say is, 
the way o' salvation oughter be so plain that th* 
wayfarin' man, though a /ooZ,' can't lose un. An' 
now here be you to prove me very words ! " 

The good soul was all this time trotting 
energetically along what I concluded could not 
be the lower road, since no chapel was in view. 
I just followed, wondering what would happen 
next ! Meanwhile my companion talked, with 
scarcely comma-pause for breath. 

" But I'm glad I happen to be late, or you 
might ha' been wanderin' around till you're all 
mizzy-mazed. Soon as I saw you comin' up 
'long, I said to father — I was jes' settlin' 'im 
comfor'ble for th' night — ' Father,' I said, ' here's 
a lady a-lookin' fur the chapel, sure 'nough. I 
shuden wonder a bit but what she's come to 
speak at th' meeting. Like as not she's a friend 
of the minister, an' 'pears she's lost.' I suppose 
you belong to London, ma'am ? " This with a 
glance all over me to make sure there was no 
local hall-mark. 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

" My home is in London," I replied, " but 
just at present I'm staying at Woodacres." 

" You've walked all the way from Wood- 
acres ? " she exclaimed. t 

" Yes ; and I'm terribly hungry," I said, 
hurriedly seizing my chance. 

At this the kind hospitable soul was most 
concerned, and insisted on our turning into a 
relative's house which we were passing at the 
moment. The door stood open, though the 
place seemed to be deserted. 

" Myra," she caUed out. A girl came down- 
stairs with some pocket-handkerchiefs in her 
hand which she appeared to be marking in red. 
There was a hurried whisper in a back room, 
and quickly she brought in a glass of milk and 
some bread and butter — for which I was truly 

" The lady do look wisht," my companion 
explained to the girl. " She's walked from 
Woodacres to hear the minister from London. 
She lost her way, and so didn't get in time for 
the tea-meeting." 

I was interested in this item of information 
about myself, but decided to let the unexpected 
situation develop as it pleased. 

We were soon walking along the road again, 
my companion talking the whole time. Myra 
was her niece, going to Bristol next week to 
start in a draper's shop. " She says 'tisn't stylish 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

nowadays to let folks think as you does your 
washing yourself, so she's making sort o' red 
oughts and crosses in the corner, that the other 
girls 'U think as the washin' was put out. Put 
out, indeed ! " — with utter scorn of voice — " ' Isn't 
it all put out ? ' I asks her. How could they dry 
'un else ? I've no patience with such fangels — 
that I haven't ! And isn't this war dreadful ? 
I see in the paper I was a-readin' to father 
that that Kayser do call it a righteous war. A 
righteous war — when he don't even leave off 
a-fighting of a Sunday I " 

Just then we turned a corner, and the 
maligned chapel certainly burst into view "all 
to once." 

The first thing to attract attention, as we 
neared the modest building, was a large board 
above the front entrance, displaying the words 
" Revival Meetings " in bold white letters pasted 
on a red turkey twill background. 

A hymn was progressing when we entered ; 
a seat had been reserved for the cottager by her 
husband, and had been left in charge of his hat 
(turned upside down and holding a red pocket- 
handkerchief covered with large white spots), 
while he himself distributed hymn books with 
backs all suffering from spinal complaint in a 
more or less acute form. 

By dint of energetic compression on the part 

Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

of the good-natured occupants of the pew, room 
was made for me as well as for my companion, 
the owner of the hat electing to stand in the 
aisle, as became a pillar of the church ; the con- 
spicuous crease adorning each trouser-leg and 
the back of his black coat proclaimed them his 
best clothes, and gave additional evidence that 
the meeting was of more than ordinary week- 
day importance. 

The place was packed to its utmost capacity. 
I decided that I had never in my whole life heard 
a harmonium more asthmatically out of tune 
and at the same time I wished that the lamps 
(which were economically turned down, daylight 
being still visible) could only be raised, since the 
odour of paraffin was not a refreshing ingredient 
to add to the air of the already close room. 
For on our hills, as in other places where fresh 
air is most abundant, ventilation is the least 
among the virtues practised by the natives. 

The congregation took some sHght adjust- 
ment before all managed to wedge themselves 
into the seats after the hymn. The general 
shuffle and scuffle having subsided, a man on the 
platform addressed the assembly. 

" I am sorry to say our brother has not yet 

The glow of expectancy on the faces of the 
people suddenly vanished. 

" We think he has made a mistake over the 
215 p 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

time of commencement ; possibly he imagines it 
is seven instead of six o'clock ; but he is certainly 
coming, or he would have telegraphed " 

The disappointed ones looked hopeful again. 

** Two friends have driven off to meet him " 
— many heads craned round in the direction of 
the door, though the honoured pair were now a 
couple of miles away — " and they will doubtless 
bring him along as quickly as possible. I think 
we may safely rely on him being here in about 
half an hour." All eyes now scanned the face 
of the clock. " In the meanwhile, we will hold 
a short Testimony meeting ; and perhaps Brother 
Wilson will first of all lead us in prayer." 

The man with the hymn-books, standing in 
the aisle, responded. Without a moment's halt 
or hesitation he poured forth a torrent of mingled 
appeal, confession, praise and request. He 
touched on their week of services, on themselves 
as a church, on the village and (according to his 
view) its state of spiritual darkness ; then he 
went further afield and dealt with the whole of 
England, the sailors on our warships, and the 
soldiers on the battlefields. This thought led 
him to mention the Colonies, the missionaries 
labouring in foreign lands ; and then he prayed 
for the heathen who Hved so far away that no 
missionary had yet reached them. He concluded 
with a plea for all backshders and a psean of 
gratitude for those who were saved. 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

The congregation followed the long prayer 
intently, punctuating every remark with " Amen," 
and many other expressions of assent, uttered 
devoutly though fervently. 

Then the one who presided asked all who 
had received a blessing that week to testify to 
the others of the great things that had befallen 
them. He sat down. After a pause of but half 
a minute, a woman rose, saying in a quiet voice — 

" I feel I ought to take the earliest opportunity 
of telling how good God has been to me. I came 
to these meetings as hopeless as any human 
being could very well be ; but God has lifted the 
load from my soul ; and now, although I cannot 
see any Ught ahead. He has shown me He is 
near, and I am content to walk by faith. And 
I know the light will come soon." 

She sat down, and the only sound that broke 
the stillness was the voice of the chairman — 

" Commit thy way unto the Lord ; trust also 
in Him ; and He shall bring it to pass." 

A decrepit old man next hobbled to his feet. 
His voice was feeble ; but the peaceful look on 
his wrinkled face, and the Hght that shone in his 
eyes, carried wonderful conviction with them. 
He was somewhat diffuse, but dwelt on all the 
goodness that had fallen to his lot through life, 
and his eager anticipation of the call that should 
summon him Home. 

When once the ice was broken, the people 
217 p 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

followed one another as fast as they could. An 
elderly woman sitting next to me rose to her 
feet, steadying herself by holding on to the pew 
in front with her work-worn hands, for she was 
trembling. She spoke in a hesitating manner ; 
yet what she said had infinite pathos in it. 
Would they remember in their prayers the lads 
who were fighting so far away, some out of 
reach of any services like these, that they might 
not forget the God of their father and mother, 
and that they might be brought back safely to 
the old home again. 

And the poor woman, who was evidently 
much overwrought, just sat down and hid her 
face in her handkerchief. I couldn't help putting 
my hand over hers in sympathy. 

There were many other bowed heads in the 
meeting by then — old, careworn women as well 
as younger ones, old men in plenty, but so few 
young fellows. 

" Let us pray," said the chairman. All eyes 
were closed. There was a slight pause, and then 
another voice full of wonderful restfulness sent 
up a prayer to the Great Comforter on behalf of 
all the mothers and fathers present, who night 
and day were longing for their sons' return, and 
for the wives who with aching hearts were 
hungering for news of the absent loved ones. 
The prayer was very simple and unconventional, 
just the asking of a boon from a Friend. But 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

the speaker understood the heartbreaks that were 
in those suppressed sobs, and his words brought 
comfort to many a lonely one that night. 

When he ceased, the lamps were all raised, 
and there on the rostrum was one of the greatest 
— if not the greatest — of the preachers of cfur 

" The minister from London " had arrived. 

I was amazed when I saw him there — a man 
who preached every Sunday to congregations 
numbering several thousands ; whose name was 
the most powerful attraction that could be found 
for a May meeting poster or a Convention pro- 
gramme ; a theologian whose lectures and 
writings were followed with the closest attention 
by hundreds of students. 

As he stood up in that small village chapel, 
the first thought that came into my mind was 
something like this : What a waste to have such 
a big man at a small meeting Hke this when he 
could easily fill Albert Hall ; and in any case he 
will probably be right above their heads ; he is 
far too scholarly for these simple-minded un- 
educated people. He will be quite lost on them. 

What I forgot was the fact that after all it is 
the Message that counts in such a case. 

The famous preacher had a Message for 
humanity ; and he was great enough to be able 
to deliver it in a way that would be understood 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

by anyone, rich or poor, educated or illiterate. 
And he was wise enough to know that he might 
be doing a big work in speaking to that handful 
of people in that remote corner of England, 
seeing that a chance visit had brought him into 
the vicinity ; therefore, when they had asked him 
if he would speak at the revival meetings they 
were holding, he had consented at once ; and I 
was not the only one who had reason to be 
grateful to God for the preacher's words that 
night ; mine was not the only heavy heart that 
had come into the Uttle chapel badly in need of 
an uplift; I was not the only one who felt 
almost alone in a losing cause, with all the old- 
time beliefe tottering. 

He read from Revelation vii. in the Revised 
Version : 

After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, 
which no man could number, out of every nation, and of all 
tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne 
and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in 
their hands; and they cry with a great voice, saying, 
Salvation unto our God which sitteth on the throne, and 
imto the Lamb . . . 

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, These 
which are arrayed in the white robes, who are they, and 
whence came they ? And I say unto him, My lord, thou 
knowest. And he said to me. These are they which come 
out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and 
made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are 
they before the throne of God ; and they serve Him day and 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

night in His temple : and He that sitteth on the throne shall 
spread His tabernacle over them. They shall himger no 
more, neither thirst any more ; neither shall the sun strike 
upon them, nor any heat: for the Lamb which is in the 
midst of the throne shall be their Shepherd, and shall guide 
them unto fountains of waters of life : and God shall wipe 
away every tear from their eyes. 

There was a moment's silence as he closed 
his Bible. And then he began to talk to the 
Httle crowd before him — not about the war, but 
about much that the war is bringing, trouble, 
sorrow, suffering, anxiety — great tribulation 

I am not going to make any attempt to give 
you his sermon : merely to take isolated sen- 
tences from a man's address, and set them down 
in cold print, deprived of the added strength and 
meaning that voice and tone and emphasis and 
context convey, is usually most unsatisfactory. 

But I wish you could have been there and 
seen the tense eager look on every face, as he 
took us quickly and concisely over the great 
crises that have befallen humanity in bygone 
ages, when it has seemed again and again as 
though Christianity has been dealt a staggering 
blow — and yet in every case the result has been 
the ultimate triumph of God, and the building 
up of His people. 

He reminded us how the darkest day in 
the world's history, when our Lord's death 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

seemed to end all hope, all promise of His 
Kingdom, was in reality the day of the greatest 

But I cannot give even a summary of his 
address ; I can only tell you of the effect it had 
upon me, and I think there were many others 
to whom Light came in a strangely vivid manner 
that evening. 

It seemed as though I was suddenly taken 
right out of my own small petty troubles, and 
shown a bigger view of the world than I had 
ever seen in my widest imaginings before. 
Things that had been perplexing, bewildering 
before, seemed to fit in quite naturally into a 
huge plan that was making for the ultimate 
good of humanity. But more than all this, there 
suddenly came that enheartening sense of being 
no longer a unit, no longer one of a small com- 
pany fighting against overwhelming odds ; I was 
now one of a huge army that had been marching 
on through all time, an army that will still be 
adding and adding to its numbers, so long as the 
world shall last. 

I seemed to hear the trampling of the feet, the 
great surge of the voices as they sang the old yet 
ever new anthem — 

" Salvation unto our God which sitteth on 
the throne, and unto the Lamb. Blessing, and 
glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

and power, and might, be unto our God for ever 
and ever." 

Here was no room for doubt ; no question as 
to ultimate results ; no misgivings ; no appre- 
hensions. The final victory did not rest with 
me ; but I was privileged to take part in it if I 
was willing to endure any hardships or tribulation 
that might happen by the way. And even these 
seemed so slight, not to be mentioned beside the 
joy of the great triumph that was surely ahead. 

The Vision comes to us all differently, at 
different times, in a different manner ; but 
assuredly I had a glimpse then of the things that 
are outside our everyday ken. I knew for an 
absolute certainty that I was one of the greatest 
army that can ever be mustered ; I knew for an 
absolute certainty that God is leading this army, 
and that with Him there is no possibiUty of 
failure, and that finally He will permit evil to be 
banished and Good will prevail. I reahsed that 
any afflictions we are called upon to bear here are 
but for a moment. Nothing can hinder the 
progress of the great multitude that no man can 
number — Christ's followers through all the ages. 
In spite of all the trihulsition—because of the 
tribulation — they reach His throne at last, and 
worship Him, while He wipes away the tears 
that may have gathered by the way. 

My thoughts had journeyed far away from 


The Flow^er-Patch 
among the Hills 

the little chapel and its earnest worshippers. I 
was recalled by the preacher's voice reciting his 
closing sentence — 

" And I saw, and I heard a voice of many 
angels round the throne . . . and the number 
of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, 
and thousands of thousands ; saying, with a 
great voice, Worthy is the Lamb that hath 
been slain to receive power, and riches, and 
wisdom, and might, and honour, and glory, and 

We stood up to sing the concluding hymn — 
one that has for long been a great favourite of 
mine — 

Coming, coming, yes, they are, 

Coming, coming, from afar ; 

From the wild and scorching desert, 

Afric's sons of colour deep ; 
Jesu's love has drawn and won them, 

At the cross they bow and weep. 

Coming, coming, yes, they are, 
Coming, coming, from afar ; 
From the Indies and the Ganges 

Steady flows the hving stream 
To love's ocean, to His bosom, 

Calvary their wond'ring theme. 

Coming, coming, yes, they are, 
Coming, coming, from afar; 
From the Steppes of Russia dreary, 
From Slavonia's scatter'd lands, 

Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

They are yielding soul and spirit 
Into Jesu's loving hands. 

Coming, coming, yes, they are, 

Coming, coming, from afar ; 

From the frozen realms of midnight, 

Over many a weary mile. 
To exchange their soul's long winter 

For the summer of His smile. 

Coming, coming, yes, they are, 
Coming, coming, from afar : 
All to meet in plains of glory. 

All to sing His praises sweet : 
"What a chorus, what a meeting, 

With the family complete ! 

And how that hymn was sung 1 It all seemed 
part of the music of the Great Army. No longer 
we thought primarily of the troops rallying to 
the call of the Mother Country and coming from 
the far ends of the world to fight in earthly 
warfare ; our souls saw farther than this — a 
multitude out of every nation of all tribes and 
peoples and tongues, ten thousand times ten 
thousand, and thousands of thousands, all march- 
ing under the banner of the Lord Jehovah. 

I had received the answer to the questions 1 
had been asking earlier in the day : " What had 
Christianity accomplished ? " It had accom- 
plished this : It had enlisted this mighty stream 
of humanity. We in that humble little chapel 
were merely a small handful, but we belonged to 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

that Great Army ; we had only to march on, 
trusting and worshipping God. 

Was it possible that I had been picturing 
myself one of a small force struggling for Right 
that was in danger of being overmastered by 
Might I Now, I saw ten thousand times ten 
thousand, and thousands of thousands, on ahead 
of me, and could even hear the tramp and the 
singing of the tens of thousands that would 
follow on after me. 

Oh, it was wonderful to feel oneself in such a 
mighty company ! 

At the close, while I was exchanging greet- 
ings with the preacher, my friend who had 
brought me to the chapel busied herself in 
finding someone who would be driving home in 
my direction — the meeting had been attended 
by people from many miles round. She dis- 
covered that a farmer and his wife were driving 
within a quarter of a mile of my cottage, and I 
was placed in their trap, carefully wrapped up in 
a warm Paisley shawl that had been produced 
from somewhere, the night being described as 
" a bit freshish, after all the dryth we've had." 

We didn't talk much on the homeward 
journey. My companions were thinking some 
deep thoughts, I was certain, from the few 
remarks they let drop. But we English do not 
easily betray our hearts in public. Hence the 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

farthest the farmer's wife got was the remark, 
"I'd dearly Hke to hear he again." To which 
her husband repHed, " Ay ! for sure." 

They told me the meetings had been much 
blessed, but this one was the best of all. Oh, 
yes, quite different from the others. No, the 
usual congregation was not as large as this, only 
about forty ; the village was small. But people 
had come from all over the hills this week ; 
to-day twenty had walked in from Brownbrook 
— that was seven miles each way. 

They went on without any connecting link 
to say they felt sure the English would win. 
There was no doubt in their minds about this, 
one could see ; and then the reason was clear. 
"Our Tom's there," the woman explained to me, 
as though I of course knew " Our Tom," and his 
presence at the front settled the matter. 

And I thought of the many fathers and 
mothers who were looking away across the 
Straits, with just that pride and faith because 
" Our Tom " is helping his country. 

At last we came to the little lane that turned 
off from the turnpike-road, and led to my cottage, 
and I said good-bye to my companions. The 
small white dog with the brown ears had heard 
my footsteps and had run out joyfully to meet 
me ; he had begun to be seriously concerned as 
to whether he would ever get a proper meal 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

again ! The night was certainly a bit freshish, 
but a glorious moon was out, and the hills were all 
high Ughts and deep shadows. I stopped a 
moment at my own gate, to look down at the 
old grey Abbey lying in the valley seven 
hundred feet below. Everything was still and 
peaceful. Only an owl called to another one in 
the steep woods across the river, and a couple of 
baby owls answered. An apple fell with a dull 
thud whenever the wind drifted across the 
orchard. It was so quiet, so restful ; it was 
difficult to think there was lurid war-fog away 
beyond those hills. 

Then suddenly, as I watched, I saw in the 
distance a procession of swinging, twinkhng 
lights moving along a footpath that cut through 
a wood and crossed a low spur of the hills. 

For the moment I wondered what it was, 
but in an instant 1 knew ; it was the party from 
Brownbrook on their homeward tramp, and 
their lanterns were lighting them down the 
rugged precipitous footpath that was lying in 
deep shadow. 

When they reached the level road they 
started singing, their voices in beautiful harmony, 
rising up and echoing again and again against 
the steep hillsides. 

Was I thinking of battlefields with a 
saddened heart again ? No, the cloud had Hfted 
from my soul; I could look for something 


Where the Road 
led over the Hills 

better, something more world-wide in its effects 

than even this terrible war. And as I stood 

thinking all this, the words came up to me that 

they were singing, as they tramped along the 

silent moonlit road, at the foot of the forest-clad 


"Coming, coming, yes, they are. 
Coming, coming, from afar ; 
All to meet in plains of glory. 

All to sing His praises sweet: 
What a chorus, what a meeting, 

With the family complete ! " 


The Little People of 
the Streams 

Have you ever heard the Little People of the 
Streams smging in the night ? I wonder ! 

Once you have heard their music you will 
never forget it I 

The first time I heard it was one February — 
shortly after I had taken the cottage — the 
season above all others when the brooks and 
falls and mountain springs are over-full of water, 
that hurries along at a great pace, tumbling over 
rocks, dropping down into green wells and 
grottos below, always galloping down hill till 
finally it reaches the ever-rushing river in the 

By day, each brook seems merely to be chatting 
sociably to the banks and the long harts-tongue 
ferns as it passes down, and you only hear one at 
a time. But after dark, when most other sounds 
have ceased, the voices of the streams seem to 
grow marvellously in volume. 

I was lying awake one night with the windows 
open, listening Uterally to the sound of many 
waters, and trying to disentangle them. 

First I heard the spring outside my garden 
gate as it scrambled down from the hillside above, 


The Little People 
of the Streams 

splashing the overhanging greenery with hght 
spray, and finally pouring out of a little trough 
—dark brown wood, closely enamelled with green 
mosses — into a rocky pool, where it ceases its 
swirl for half a minute, just while it gets its 
breath, before rushing on down the hill, finding 
its own way around, or over, all sorts of obstacles, 
and resenting any interference of man. 

Soon I could distinguish a second brook, that 
serves a cottage a quarter of a mile further along 
the lane, before it winds about and enters my 
lower orchard. This had overflowed in the 
orchard, and was having quite a gay time, run- 
ning skittishly out of the orchard gate and into 
another lane, instead of pursuing its proper 

Next I was able to detach the conversation 
of the small waterfall that drops about a hundred 
feet from an overhanging ledge of rock into a 
green cave under the hill, where mosses of 
wonderful size abound, and yellow flags stand 
guard at the entrance, with creeping jenny and 
forget-me-nots just outside. 

The sound always seems to increase as you 
listen, and soon I detected the noise of the river as 
it tears over successive weirs. If the tide is low 
it is often a roar when you stand on the river 
bank beside a weir ; but up here on the heights 
the noise is softened to a purling sound, that runs 
like a never-ceasing ground-bass or pedal note 

231 Q 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

amid the fluctuating tones of the nearer 

Other and more distant murmurings floated 
in at the window ; but one could never allocate 
them all, for, excepting in the hottest weather, 
this is in truth " a good land, a land of brooks of 
water, of fountains and depths that spring out of 
valleys and hills." 

I was thinking of this, when suddenly the 
babbhng of the water was drowned in the sound 
of wonderful bells that rose upon the night air. 
It was not from our village church ; that 
possesses only one bell, whose sound, unfor- 
tunately, resembles nothing so much as a cracked 
iron shovel struck with a pair of tongs : and 
there is no other bell for miles around. 

And yet there was no mistaking it. I could 
distinctly hear the joyous clashing and clanging 
of bells in a tall steeple. 

It was no brazen banging ; rather, some fairy 
music, Hke the cariUon at Mahnes (which I am 
proud to remember I once played, though, alas 1 
I shall never play it again). 

I listened in amazement ; soon was added 
the sound of voices, hke subdued distant singing 
in some vast cathedral, while the bells still clashed 
outside. Yet it was never close at hand ; it 
always seemed to float to me from a distance. 

I was sure I was not asleep, for I knew where 
I was, and decided to get up and go to the 


The Little People 
of the Streams 

window, when — the dog barked — (probably he 
could hear a fox prowling around outside). 
Instantly the spell was broken. I opened my 
eyes ; there was no sound but the murmuring 
and burbUng of the brooks. 

Like a sensible person, I of course decided 
that I had been dreaming. 

Yet again and again have I heard the clang- 
ing bells, with often the sound of an organ and 
singing wafted through the open window. It 
always comes when the streams are most im- 
petuous and when I am in that lotus-flowering 
land that Hes between awakeness and sleep. 

The music is always enthrallingly happy, and 
my only regret is that the bells and the singers 
do not come a trifle nearer, so that I could 
catch every note and jot it all down for future 

I related my experiences to one or two 
people ; but this was all the information they 
seemed able to give me : 

" If I were you, I should run down to Mar- 
gate for a week or so, and leave all work behind. 
Go to a nice bright boarding-house, where there 
are lots of people, and enjoy yourself; and forget 
about that wretched cottage. You've been over- 
doing it lately. I had another friend just Uke 
you — got a little peculiar, you know, and then 
— well, I won't tell you any more ; don't want 
to make you nervous, of course, but — her mother 

233 Q 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

never got over it, and so well-connected, too — 
kept three motors. You take my advice. I'll 
send you the name of a charming boarding- 
house I know," etc. 

Then I kept my own counsel, and decided 
that there were Little People living in the 
streams, just as I had always liked to picture 
them living in the flowers and under the mush- 
rooms. And the music I heard was the Little 
People singing, and ringing all the harebells and 
foxglove bells that grow along the banks of the 

I concluded that no one had ever heard them 
but myself. But, to my surprise, one day I 
found that others did know about these Little 
People ! 

I was reading " The Forest," by Stewart E. 
White, where he describes his impressions and 
experiences as he lay awake at night in a tent 
on the banks of a Canadian river, when I came 
upon the following, that in many points coin- 
cides with my own sensations : — 

'* In such circumstances you will hear what the boatmen 
call the voices of the rapids. Many people never hear them 
at all. They speak very soft and low, and distinct, beneath 
the steady roar and dashing, beneath even the lesser tinklings 
and gurglings whose quality superimposes them over the 
louder sounds. In the stillness of your hazy half-con- 
sciousness they speak; when you bend your attention to 
listen, they are gone, and only the tumults and the tinklings 


The Little People 
of the Streams 

" But in the moments of their audibility they are very 
distinct. Just as often an odour will awake all a vanished 
memory, so these voices, by the force of a large impressionism, 
suggest whole scenes. Far off are the cling-clang-cHng of 
chimes and the swell-and-fall murmur of a multitude en fete, 
80 that subtly you feel the gray old town, with its walls, the 
crowded market-place, 'the decent peasant crowd, the booths, 
the mellow church building with its bells, the warm, dust- 
moted sun. Or, in the pauses between the swish-dash- 
dashings of the waters, sound faint and clear voices singing 
intermittently, calls, distant notes of laughter, as though 
many canoes were working against the current; only the 
flotilla never gets any nearer, nor the voices louder. The 
boatmen call these mist people the Huntsmen, and look 
frightened. . . . Curiously enough, by all reports, they suggest 
always peacefulness — a harvest field, a street fair, a Sunday 
morning in a cathedral town, careless travellers — never the 
turmoils and struggles. Perhaps this is the great Mother's 
compensation in a harsh mode of Ufe. 

" Nothing is more fantastically unreal to teU about, 
nothing more concretely real to experience, than this under- 
note of the quick water. And when you do Ue awake at 
night, it is always making its unobtrusive appeal. Gradually 
its hypnotic spell works. The distant chimes ring louder 
and nearer as you cross the borderland of sleep. And then 
outside the tent some httle woods noise snaps the thread. 
An owl hoots, a whippoorwill cries, a twig cracks beneath 
the cautious prowl of some night creature — at once the 
yellow sunlit French windows puff away — you are staring at 
the blurred image of the moon spraying through the texture 
of your tent." 

Since reading this, I have spoken of the 
matter to others with more courage ; and 
although the majority do not seem to have 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

come across them, I have discovered several 
people who have heard the Little People singing. 

Some, indeed, have been kind enough to 
attempt to give me a lucid explanation of what 
they are pleased to call a very simple natural 
phenomenon, and they prattle of enharmonics and 
sound vibrations, of nodes and super-tones, in a 
very impressive manner. One tells me the whole 
thing is merely a psychological emotion vibrating 
in sympathy with the acoustical environment. 

I dare say. 

Personally, I would just as soon leave it 
unelucidated. There are certain moods in which 
I do not want such things as nature, and love, 
and beauty, and self-sacrifice explained. It is 
enough for me that they are, and that I have 
been permitted to enjoy them. 

And although I know that the Little People 
are not necessarily wearing gauze wings and 
white frocks and stars in their hair, as I pictured 
them in my first childhood, I still like to think 
that even in the brooks something is singing, 
something rejoicing, something giving thanks for 
the gift of fife. 



The Funeral of the Hero 

It was three months after the funeral of the 
Village Hero. Now I come to think of it, I 
haven't mentioned the funeral before. 

The hero, a porter at the Uttle railway station, 
enhsted very early in the campaign. Our village 
— in the main — did nobly in the way of early 

A quiet, retiring young fellow, he had never 
singled himself out for any sort of notoriety, 
though I, personally, had always remarked on 
his unvarying courtesy and his wiUingness to do 
everything he could to assist passengers. 

The news of his death was the first thing to 
bring the War actually home to our isolated 
corner of the world. 

People had known he was ill, because his 
wife had been summoned to a mDitary hospital 
some weeks before, when his condition was 
pronounced critical. But no one had really 
anticipated the worst — till it came. And then 
the word passed quickly from cottage to cottage : 
" Poor Aleck's gone ! " 

" Ay I You don't say so I Ain't it just hke 
they Huns to go and kill off' the best of the 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

bunch," said one woman who never had a good 
word for the lad during his lifetime. 

One and all agreed forthwith that proper 
respect must be shown to " the remains " ; and 
those who didn't intend to inconvenience them- 
selves by fighting, felt they were serving their 
country nobly by seeing that poor Aleck had a 
handsome funeral. 

The news of his death reached the village on 
Friday. On Saturday the older members of the 
family selected the spot for his grave in the little 
churchyard, as, of course, he must be buried near 
his home. 

By Sunday all the relatives to the remotest 
generation wore deep mourning to church — 
thanks to the superhuman efforts of the village 
dressmaker, and numerous ready-mades pur- 
chased in the nearest town. 

The Rector was in a nursing-home in London 
at the time, but the curate, though only newly 
arrived, preached a moving sermon, extolling 
the courage of the young man who had died 
"with his face to the foe, braving the falling 
shells and raining bullets in order to defend his 

The sentiment was right — Aleck was willing 
to do all that ; but in reaUty he never got beyond 
a training camp on the east coast, where, the air 
proving too bleak for him after the mildness of 
the west, he had gone down with pneumonia. 


The Funeral 
of the Hero 

The new curate didn't know that, however, 
and everybody said it was a beautiful sermon, 
and went and told the poor mother about it, 
as she had been too grief-stricken to go to 

So far the widow had not written herself; 
but that wasn't surprising ; she would be too 
broken down with trouble. WiUing heads and 
hands did all they could, however, to anticipate 
her wishes. 

They telegraphed to the former curate (now 
the vicar of a crowded Lancashire parish) and 
asked if he would conduct the funeral ; he had 
known the deceased from boyhood. He wired 
back : " Yes ; send day and hour." 

They sent to uncles and aunts and cousins 
throughout Great Britain : all who could arrived 
post haste on Monday. And what a gathering it 
was of outstanding members of the clan ! Those 
who hadn't recognised each other's existence for 
years now forgot their ancient feuds, while one 
and all discovered such good quahties in the poor 
lad, and were so anxious to insist on the nearness 
of their relationship, that his death did not seem 
altogether in vain. 

I myself wrote a note to the v^ddow, only 
waiting to post it till I could get her address. 

Miss Bretherton, the Rector's niece, hurried 
home from London to do what she could to 
comfort the parents, who were aloof from the 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

general excitement and knew only the sorrow of 
the occasion. 

While waiting for further details to arrive, 
people made wreaths, and discussed how best the 
engine could be draped in black. 

As there was no letter by Tuesday morning, 
and the vicar in Lancashire had again asked for 
particulars, the self-constituted committee of 
management decided to send a wire to the 
widow. After composing — and then discarding — 
twenty-six different messages, till the post-office 
was threatened with a famine in telegram forms, 
the post-mistress came to their assistance, and 
suggested that the wording should be as brief 
and as straightforward as possible, to save mis- 
understanding — and expense. Eventually they 
were all persuaded to agree to the following : 

" What train will the coffin come by ? 
Reply paid." 

In about an hour the widow answered : 

"Whose coffin? Don't know what you 
mean. Aleck nearly well." 

The whole village has had three points under 
discussion ever since. 

I. Who was it said he was dead ? 

II. Can a man be made to pay for his own 
grave being dug when he refuses to occupy it ? 

III. And what is to become of the mourning 
anyhow ? 



Just a Little Piece of 

I WAS reminded of the funeral when I arrived at 
the valley station one spring morning, by the 
fact that it was " the remains " who opened the 
carriage door for me and helped us out with 
our things. 

He was home for a few days' leave, looking 
very smart and upright in his uniform ; and he 
saluted (even though he permitted himself to 
smile) when I gave him a half-crown, telling 
him to buy himself a wreath. 

The white-painted garden gate had been 
placed wide open by way of welcome. We had 
left behind us, in town, weather that called itself 
the end of March, but in reaUty ought to have 
been January ; we arrived at the Mttle cottage 
to find that the calendar had taken a leap 
forward, for here it was hke the end of April. 
On the grey stone walls beside the gate clumps 
of wallflowers were in bloom — masses of pale 
primrose flowers mixed with those of a rich rose- 
purple variety ; only these two sorts had been 
planted in the chinks of this particular wall. 1 
am sure the dear things nodded at us as we 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

All over the garden were more wallflowers 
bursting by the thousand into bloom. Some 
beds were a mixture of clear bright yellow 
flowers, combined with the sort that are a deep 
mahogany, looking as though they were made 
of velvet; other beds had a pretty rose-pink 
variety ; while on the top of more walls, and in 
corners and patches about the garden, were the 
old-fashioned "streaky" kinds, all aglow with 
brown and yellow. 

The long bed in front of the porch, given 
over to cowslips, oxlips, polyanthus, auriculas, 
and suchhke homely flowers, was very gay. 
The polyanthus were a dehghtful medley of 
claret colour, pink, brown, crimson, orange, 
yellow, most of them looking as though the 
edges of the petals had been buttonholed around 
with silk of a contrasting colour. It seemed as 
though the flowers in this bed fairly tip-toed as 
we came along the path, and stretched their 
necks as high as ever they could, from out of 
their crinkled leaves, to show how remarkably 
fine they were. 

In the narrow beds under the cottage 
windows double daffodils made plenty of colour, 
and at the edge were clumps of primroses — 
various shades of pink and crimson. These had 
seeded over into the path, with the result that 
baby primrose-plants were coming up cheerily 
between the rough flagstones. The ordinary 


Just a Little 
Piece of GHskin 

yellow primrose was starring the grass all about 
the orchard, where wild daffodils were swaying 
by the hundred. The white flowers of the black- 
thorn were Uke snowdrifts on the hedges. 

It was so wonderful, after the bleak, cheerless 
aspect of town, to come upon this world of 
smiling growing things. The soft air, sweeping 
over the hills, brought the scent of ploughed 
fields and newly-turned earth, of bursting buds 
and opening blossoms, with the ozone of the sea, 
and the salt of the weed that lies on the rocks 
around the hghthouse in the far-away distance. 

There seemed to be an all-pervading peace 
that laid hold of one's very soul ; and yet you 
could not say it was really quiet, for birds were 
giving rival concerts in every tree, and quite a 
number were devoting their energies to saying 
insulting things to the newcomers and the small 
dog who had taken the liberty of encroaching on 
their ancient heritage. They are not sufficiently 
grateful for the fact that I leave my woods un- 
cut, and undisturbed, as bird sanctuaries. 

Lambs were bleating in the valley meadows ; 
the spring gurgled cheerfully outside the gate as 
it tumbled out of the spout into the pool below. 

We stood in the garden for a moment to 
take a good breath, and drink in as much of the 
beauty as we could, when Virginia just touched 
my arm and looked towards a long belt of trees 
— mostly oak and fir — that runs down one side 


The riower-Patch 
among the Hills 

of the garden and orchards, linking the larch 
woods up above us with the birch and hazel 
coppice down below — ^the coppice where the 
nightingales sing, and the tiny wrens and the 
tomtits build, and where the little dormouse 
lives, who comes out from among the under- 
growth, with no apparent fear, when I stand in 
the wood-path and softly whistle. 

This barricade of trees was originally left 
standing when the rest of the ground was cleared, 
to screen the house from the winter gales. But 
we have named it the Squirrels' Highway. 

Sure enough, as we stood there silent and 
motionless, down came one Uttle bushy tail from 
the upper woods, followed by another, probably 
his wife. They leapt from branch to branch, and 
from tree to tree, nibbling a young oak shoot 
here, sniffing delicately at a few leaves some- 
where else. 

Little bright eyes looked down and saw the 
strangers ; but they had seen them before, and 
no harm ever resulted — only lovely feasts of nuts 
laid out on the tops of walls — so they just ran 
on down their own highway, seeming as light as 
feathers, and leaping and springing with in- 
describable grace. 

At last they got to the high wall that divides 
the lower orchard from the birch and hazel 
coppice, and they played along that wall, bright 
spots of reddy-brown against the dark green of 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

the ivy and the purple tone of the swelling birch 
buds. All seemed gaiety and happiness, till a 
third little bushy tail popped up over the wall 
from the coppice — and then there were fire- 
works indeed ! I expect they were relations who 
were not on cordial terms ! We left them having 
a whole-hearted hand-to-hand fight — which, I 
must say, seems a much more satisfactory way 
of setthng a difference than either Zepp or 
submarine methods. 

Indoors the table had been laid for tea, pre- 
paratory to our arrival, by Mrs. Widow, who, as 
already mentioned, is the custodian of the house 
in my absence. She gives an old-world curtsy 
that is very disarming, and says, " I'm main glad 
to see you back again, miss, and I hope you'U 
find everything to your Hking." 

That, however, is as it may be. 

Nevertheless, there is something about the 
way that table is always laid that rejoices my 
heart, even though I might not wish to have my 
meals set in that pattern every day. The large 
white cloth may not present the glass-like surface 
of the town-laundered tablecloth, but at least it 
is white, and — like the cottage sheets and towels 
and pillow-cases — it holds the scents of the hill- 
side garden where it was hung out to dry ; and 
though the creases are somewhat ridgy and 
insistent, and the cloth has been ironed a trifle 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

askew, I know several people who would rather 
have tea off this tablecloth than the most 
elaborate dinner and the finest napery that 
London hotels can produce. 

Knives and forks are placed with great pre- 
cision around the table at intervals, a cup and 
saucer and plate beside each, the crockery never 
by any chance matching ! In the mathematical 
centre a loaf of farmhouse bread stands on a 
kitchen plate, flanked on one side — to the East, 
as it were — by a large white jug holding a quart 
of mUk, and to the West, by the sugar basin. 
The big brown teapot stands at the South Pole ; 
and a pudding-basin of new-laid eggs, laid by the 
widow's own fowls, are waiting, at the North 
Pole, to be cooked. A small plate bearing a 
dinner knife and half a pound of butter (which is 
never put into the proper butter dish) is placed 
at :the South- West ; this is balanced at the 
South-East by a pot of home-made jam and a 
tablespoon. Watercress and lettuce may grace 
the table, though this will be according to the 
season ; but summer or winter, one feature is 
never omitted, and that is a large kitchen jug full 
of flowers, gathered by Mrs. Widow from her 
own garden. 

On the day I am writing about, the jug had 
a brave handful of daffodils, a few sprays of red 
ribis, dark-brown wallflowers, some small ivy, 
with some short-stemmed polyanthus suffocating 


Just a Little 
Piece of GHskin 

in the centre of the big bunch. And it is 
wonderful how much you can get crammed into 
one jug when you try I 

Abigail, having none of my weak-minded 
leanings towards " the primitive," scornfully 
whisked the whole lot off the table, as soon as 
Mrs. Widow had gone back to her own cottage, 
and re-laid it on modern hues. 

We did not hurry over the meal. Virginia 
got on a lengthy dissertation as to the crying 
need for fish forks with magnetised prongs that 
would just draw the bones out of the fish, without 
any prehminary search and scrutiny. I suggested 
a radium tip to the prongs — I could think of 
nothing that seemed more suitable — but she said 
that might demolish fish and all, in which case 
one would get no more personal satisfaction 
out of the creature than one does when having 
to eat it with its full complement of bones 

I then ventured a suggestion that forks made 
like an ordinary magnet would do, if the fish 
were given steel drops in regular doses for a few 
weeks before being caught, so as to get its bones 
susceptible to the magnet. But Virginia was 
very lofty, as she always is, about my scientific 
explanations. I never heard her solution of the 
problem, because the telegram boy arrived at the 
moment, with a wire for Abigail, saying that her 

247 R 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

mother had broken her arm (a genuine case 
this time !). 

So she left by the next train, bewailing the 
fact that her mother could not get compensation 
from anyone, as she had given up a post of 
housekeeper but three months before ; if she 
had only been in the situation still she could have 
claimed £300 a year for life, Abigail thought — 
provided the arm could only be induced to 
remain broken. 

Some people, especially her relatives, were 
always unfortunate, she said, while others were 
just the reverse. There was a cousin of a friend 
of hers ; he had been out of work for a year or 
so before he got a job, and then the very first 
day he met with an accident at the works and 
had to have his leg amputated ; and there he is 
now, a gentleman for fife, comfortably settled on 
his compensation. Her people never had luck 
like that. It did seem hard ! 

" Are you awake ? " Virginia's voice lilted up 
the stairs next morning. 

Awake ! why, sleep had been impossible in 
that cottage for hours past I 

For sheer undiluted racket, commend me to 
two earnest-souled girls, who get up early, and 
go about with a stealthy tread that creaks every 
old board in the place, and commune with each 
other in stage whispers that penetrate through 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

every crack in the floor, all on the pretext of 
making the fire ! 

We had decided that we could manage very 
well ourselves, without sending for anyone to 
take Abigail's place ; and in order to forestall 
me, the others had got up about cockcrow, and 
then began such a whirligig below, that I just 
lay still and endeavoured to allocate every fresh 

They raked and shovelled at the grate, and 
appeared to be scattering cinders all over the 
place. They broke up applewood twigs with 
resounding snaps, and argued as to the amount 
required to set the fire going. Ursula said you 
ought to put in handfuls till you got a good 
crackling blaze; Virginia said that was a 
childish, brainless way of doing it, to say 
nothing of the chance of waste ; by rights the 
quantity of twigs employed ought to be strictly 
in inverse ratio to the quantity of inflammable 
gas contained in the coal. I dare say I should 
have heard a good deal more as to the way to 
assess the ignitable quality of coal, but fortu- 
nately the fire burnt up quickly, and they gave 
their attention to other domestic details. 

They dashed about the brass fender ; they 
whacked the blacklead brush against the oven- 
door at every turn ; they set down the zinc pail 
with a ringing thud, and then scoured the hearth 
with zeal enough to take off half an inch of stone 

249 R 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

surface ; they polished the brass fire-irons with 
some concoction of bath-brick and salt which 
they invented on the spot, as they couldn't find 
any metal polish ; they banged the hearthrug 
out of doors till the surrounding hiUs rever- 
berated with the echoes ; they rinked the carpet- 
sweeper up and down till it made me dizzy to 
listen ; and as this was not thorough enough 
for Ursula, she also got a short stiff brush and 
apparently pommelled out any dust that might 
be under the settle and in other obscure 
corners ; they dusted with equal energy, and 
then went off into the kitchen to consult about 
the breakfast menu, while the kettle chose the 
opportunity to boil all over the fire, thereby 
raising clouds of white ash that settled on 
everything, and they said, " Oh, dear ! Just 
look at it." 

Finally, I heard the white cloth being flapped 
over the table ; cups and saucers and plates were 
chinked and rattled off the dresser ; knives and 
forks and spoons jingled on to the table, and I 
knew that breakfast was well under way. It 
was just then that Virginia put her head through 
the staircase-door to ask — in moderated tones 
calculated not to disturb me should I still be 
slumbering ! — was I awake ? 

Hastily hopping out on to the rug, I repHed 
that I was " nearly dressed, and would be down 
in a minute." 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

"No hurry," she repHed artlessly, "we've 
only just come down ourselves, and are going to 
see to breakfast. But what I want to know is : 
Where do you keep your frying-pan ? " 

" Hanging on its proper nail in the kitchen," 
1 replied. 

" Well, it isn't there . . . No, it isn't on the 
saucepan shelf, either — we've hunted everywhere. 
. . . But Abigail didn't use it yesterday — don't 
you remember ? We had boiled eggs, and 
some of that cold ham we brought with us. 
. . . All right, we can just as well have eggs 
again. . . That's true, we shan't want bacon, 
with that pork coming for dinner ; but be quick, 
as the kettle's boiling now. . . Oh, it's not a bit 
of trouble." 

Whether it was due to the sunshine, or to 
the tonic of the air, or to the virtuous feeling 
that always overtakes those who get up early in 
the morning and disturb everyone else, I cannot 
say ; but at any rate Ursula announced that she 
intended to start right in, immediately after 
breakfast, and give the whole cottage a thorough 
spring cleaning. 

The domesticities of the morning seemed to 
have whetted her appetite for such matters, and 
she said she felt she must give the place a 
" Dutch " turn-out, and have every shelf and 
stool and all the pots and pans scrubbed and 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

scoured and tilted out of doors to dry, as they 
do in Holland. 

Virginia said that she, too, felt a strong force 
— it might be her sub-conscious self, or she might 
have a dual personaUty, she couldn't say which — 
within her, impelling her to turn the house inside 

So I told them to go ahead ; I'm the last one 
to discourage anyone from doing my work for 
me. I suggested, however, that for the first day 
they should confine their attentions to the hving- 
rooms downstairs. 

Of course, the reader of average intellect will 
wonder what necessity there could be for any 
such upheaval, seeing that the place would 
obviously have been overhauled before we 
arrived ; but this brings me back to Mrs. 
Widow. " A worthy body and an honest soul," 
the Rector said, when he originally recommended 
her to me, all of which was quite true ; but, alas, 
thoroughness in regard to house-cleaning is not 
her strong point. 

When I first sought her out and broached 
the subject of the caretaker I was requiring, she 
listened in a non-committal way. I stated how 
much a year I was willing to pay — naming an 
exceptionally good sum — and explained that for 
this money the house must be looked after in my 
absence, and be got quite ready for me whenever 
I should come down, while anything she might 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

do while I was " in residence " would be paid for 
as an extra. 

She showed no indecorous haste to secure the 
appointment. She merely said she would talk 
it over with her married daughter, and if she 
thought any more of it she would let me know. 
A few hours later she came to me, and said 
casually that on second thoughts she didn't mind 
obliging me. (No one ever " works " for you in 
our village, they merely " obhge.") In the 
interval, however, the whole village had gone 
into committee on the subject, and everyone's 
advice had been sought, and very freely given. 

Once more I went through the terms of the 
agreement, and she said she quite understood. 
Nevertheless, subsequent events led me to beUeve 
that she regarded the annual wage in the light 
of a retaining fee only, since most of the work 
is always left to be done after I arrive, when 
it will have to be paid for as a separate trans- 
action if it is more than Abigail can wrestle 

At the same time I can truly endorse the 
Rector's tribute to her honesty. If I were to 
strew the floor with sovereigns or diamond 
rings, I know I should find them on the mantel- 
piece when next I returned, and she never 
annexes anything permanently. 

But the fact that one has a village-wide 
reputation for honesty need not detract from 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

one's worldly prosperity — so long as one can 
borrow with light-hearted frequency, and borrow 
for indefinite periods, too ! Mrs. Widow has 
reduced borrowing to a fine art, but her honesty 
is demonstrated by the fact that I have never 
known her decline to return any of my posses- 
sions ; indeed, so scrupulous is she that she will 
bring back the tin of metal poUsh, when it is 
empty, explaining that she was quite sure I 
wanted it to be used rather than wasted I 

Abigail invariably spends the first couple of 
days at the cottage in skirmishing and reclaiming 
missing articles. Knowing all this, I was not 
surprised when I heard the frying-pan was 
minus ; I also knew that time would reveal 
other vacancies. 

Had it been July or August, the preserving- 
pan — a family treasure — would have been gone, 
too. Mrs. Widow is always very solicitous for 
its welfare about fruit-gathering time ; she says 
damp would easily hurt a really good preserving- 
pan, so she takes it home with her to keep it dry. 
Yet the poor thing will be left to face the 
winter in my kitchen with never a thought 
bestowed on its deUcate constitution. 

And it is just at jam-making time, too, 
that my kitchen scales and weights require the 
ameliorated atmosphere of Mrs. Widow's cottage ; 
my own kitchen, with the midsummer sun upon 
it all day, being obviously far too cold and damp 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

for such highly-strung bric-a-brac as one pound 
and half-pound weights. 

A town acquaintance once said to Virginia : 
" I suppose Miss Klickmann goes down to her 
cottage for poetic and literary inspiration ? " 

" Oh, dear, no ! " was the reply. " She simply 
goes down, as a mere matter of feminine curiosity, 
to see what is left." 

" Where do you keep your tea-towels ? " 
Ursula began, as she prepared to wash up the 
breakfast things. 

"There ought to be a pile in one of the 
drawers of the kitchen table," I said. " They 
are not there ? Oh, well, they'll come back 
presently ! " 

While we were speaking, a small girl appeared 
at the side door, holding in one hand a basket 
containing a nice chunk of pork (wrapped in one 
of my tea-towels), and in the other hand my 
mincing-machine. This was Mrs. Widow's 

" If you please, ma'am, father's killed the pig, 
and mother thought you might hke just a Uttle 
piece of griskin, and mother's been taking care 
of the mincer so's it shan't get rusty." 

An exchange of courtesies having been 
effected by means of a bottle of pear-drops, the 
small maid departed with her empty basket ; the 
mincer was restored to its proper niche in the 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

pantry, and we were at least one tea-towel to 
the good. 

I might mention that Mrs. Widow's married 
daughter had recently acquired considerable 
local fame by making " faggots," which were in 
great demand. You know the dish ? — a com- 
bination of liver, pork, sage and onions, etc., 
baked in squares. Other people in the district 
made faggots, too, but none could rival hers, 
and orders came to her from many of the big 

" No one ever manages to get them chopped 
so beautifully fine as she does," said Miss 
Bretherton when recommending them to my 
notice. " I advise you to try them." 

Still, whatever obligation there may have 
been was offset, surely, by the piece of pork. 
The griskin is the lean portion of some part of 
the quadruped's anatomy after the fat has been 
cut off for curing. This joint — which we never 
see in London — is always popular with us in the 
country ; so popular, that I had ordered a piece 
only the day before from the butcher. It was 
just the season when people were killing their 
pigs, and the butcher had suggested griskin. 
Still, it was easy to put the extra piece in salt, 
and the flavour would only be improved thereby ; 
my one regret was that the butcher had sent a 
very large joint, when I had particularly men- 
tioned that I only wanted a little piece. 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

I had originally intended to devote the day 
to gardening, not to house- cleaning. 

" Of course you keep a permanent gardener ? " 
people inquire of me. " I see ; a general handy 
man ; it comes to the same thing ; he will save 
you all trouble." 

Those of my acquaintances who have never 
had a place out of town to look after, always 
conclude that country districts fairly bristle with 
capable, willing men, and poor-but-honest, hard- 
working women, all of them anxious to do my 
work — and at a merely nominal wage too ; 
whereas one has the utmost trouble to get 
either man or woman to do a day's work at any 
price. I pay the handy man the same wage per 
day as I pay my thoroughly experienced London 
gardener ; and he can only manage to spare me 
a small amount of his time at that price. 

He knows very little about flowers, but he 
weeds in an enhghtened manner, and he under- 
stands the elementary principles underlying 
vegetable growing on a small scale. For the 
most part the villagers bother very httle about 
their gardens, only cultivating just sufficient 
ground for their immediate needs. 

The unenlightened local method of dealing 
with weeds is this. He-who-is-paid-to-garden 
leaves them to grow to a fair height — especially 
if no one is Ukely to be there for some weeks to 
see them. Then, when they have absorbed a 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

generous amount of nourishment from the 
ground, and generally suffocated everything 
small within their reach, he merely turns the 
soil over, with the weeds on the underneath side, 
draws a rake over the surface, and presto ! you 
have a nice tidy bed. 

This method is known as " digging in." 

Of course, in twenty-four hours the good- 
natured things start to poke cheerful noses 
through the soil again. But that doesn't matter. 
Life is long, and the gardener is paid to clear 
them away again. 

There is an optional method, referred to as 
" cleaning up the beds." In that case, he leaves 
the weeds to grow higher, more especially in 
beds that are full of promising seedHngs ; in fact, 
he doesn't worry about them at aU until there is 
sudden and urgent reason why the garden should 
present a kempt, well-cared-for appearance. 

Then, the weeds being so healthy and luxuriant 
that they would raise the face of creation a 
couple of inches if he attempted to dig them in, 
he simplifies matters by removing the surface of 
the earth, weeds and seedlings and all ; this he 
wheels away in a barrow, perchance to lay it 
down on some rough and rubbly bit of lane that 
the road-menders have ignored. 

When she-who-pays arrives, all expectation, 
and inquires for the missing seedlings, the tiller 
of the soil shakes his head lugubriously, and 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

refers to the recent plague of slugs (or thunder- 
storms, or frost, or east winds, or whatever other 
natural phenomena seem most convincing), and 
says he had a hard job to save what is left in the 
garden — this last in a martyr-like tone of voice, 
indicating that though all his self-sacrificing 
labour is passed over unrecognised, he himself 
has the virtuous consciousness of having at least 
done his simple duty, and what man can do more I 

Now I come to think of it, there are many 
different ways of gardening ; that must be why 
it is always interesting to go round the garden 
with the gardener. When I say different 
ways, I don't mean such trifling divergencies 
of method as landscape gardens versus intensive 
culture, or tomatoes under glass versus gloxinias. 
These primarily concern the pocket ; the differ- 
ences that interest me are temperamental. 

There is Miss Bretherton, for instance, a 
most diligent and vigilant gardener. And yet 
she never seems to me to get much genuine, 
unalloyed pleasure out of her garden ; she never 
basks in its beauty — though for the matter of 
that Miss Bretherton never basks anywhere I A 
middle-aged woman who does her duty by a 
scattered parish, conscientiously and thoroughly 
and unremittingly, never has time for that sort 
of dissipation ! Miss Bretherton deals with her 
garden much as she deals with the parish. At 
best it is a case of striving to lead reluctant feet 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

in the paths of virtue, while by far the greater 
part of her efforts is an unflagging wrestle with 
original sin. 

A walk round the rectory garden is usually 
like this. Miss Bretherton always picks up a pair 
of gardening scissors and a basket mechanically 
as she steps out. 

" What a wonderful glow of colour ! " I 
exclaim, as I bury my nose in a magnificent 
Gloire de Dijon. 

" But it is such a wretched thing for sending 
up suckers," Miss Bretherton replies. " I'm 
always digging them up. Why, I declare there 
is one a foot high," giving it a drastic prod with 
the scissors. " I thought I'd cut them all away 
yesterday " ; more prods till the sucker is finally 

" And aren't those hollyhocks tall ! " 

" Not nearly so fine as they would have been 
if that red-spotty blight hadn't attacked them. 
Just look at these leaves I " 

Snip, snip, snip I Off came a dozen or so. 

I stop to admire the fairy flowers in the 
Virginia stock, rosy carmine, lemon and mauve, 
just opening in the sun. 

" I don't think there is anything sweeter for 
a border," I remark. 

" The trouble with Virginia stock is that it 
so soon looks untidy," Miss Bretherton says 
dispiritedly. " Do what I will, I can't keep the 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

edges tidy once that goes off bloom. I pull it 
all out at last, and then that leaves a bare rough- 
dried looking space with nothing in it." ' 

I praise the white lilies — such a stately row 
of spotless beauty. 

" I wish I could do something to hide that 
raggedness at the bottom of the stems. They do 
look so shabby. Excuse me, I see that Canter- 
bury bell has withered off — that's the worst of 
them. They all go at once so suddenly, and look 
such a withered mass. I must cut off those dead 
blooms, it may send up a second crop. But 
there, if it does, they will only be small bells I " 

I'm not sure whether the handy man's method 
is temperamental, but I know it is very conver- 
sational, if you can call it a conversation when 
he insists on doing the whole of it himself. He 
is an elderly bachelor ; and Mrs. Widow once 
explained the situation to me : 

" You see, he ain't never had no wife to talk 
his head off for him, so he talks it off for hisself." 

I give him copious instructions whenever I 
leave, which he promises to carry out; but no 
matter what I may have asked him to do — 
whether it was to nail up the yellow roses over 
the front door, or to set lavender cuttings — it 
all works out to the same thing in the end : 
it is only the vegetables that are deemed worthy 
of mention. The flowers are just tolerated 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

because — well, because I keep on putting them 
in the ground, and you can't expect practical 
common-sense from a woman anyhow ! But 
after all, it isn't reasonable to expect an un- 
trained cottager to make a garden different from 
those he sees around. 

You can understand, however, that we are 
usually kept pretty busy from the moment we 
arrive till the hour we go away. 

But this particular morning gardening was 
out of the question. The two girls started with 
the spring-cleaning on most vigorous lines. 
Virginia said the hygienic way was to place 
everything that was movable out-of-doors, so 
that, scientifically speaking, the sun's rays could 
penetrate every fibre and tissue, and neutralise 
the harmful germs that would assuredly be 
lurking by the million in every stick and shred 
in a house as neglected as that one had been. 

I objected to my cherished possessions being 
referred to as sticks and shreds, and I said so, 
with emphasis. 

Ursula said if we were going to argue at that 
length it would be the August Bank Holiday 
before we got things back in their place again. 
For her part, she regarded all that germ-business 
as a harmless fairy-tale that was very suitable 
and safe reading for a mild intellect like Virginia's. 
All the same, she quite agreed that everything 
ought to be put outside, so as to give more 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

elbow-room indoors ; moreover, things that were 
washed and scrubbed would, of course, dry 
quicker in the sun. 

So out they all came ! 

Then we saw how badly the boards around 
the carpet needed re-staining, and we dispatched 
Virginia to the village to see what she could get 
in the way of oak or walnut floor-stain. 

She returned with a large bottle of rheumatic 
lotion. Miss Jarvis, who keeps the village shop, 
hadn't a bottle of stain left, but Virginia turned 
over everything she had and decided on the 
lotion, as it was thickish and a nice rich brown. 
She bore it off. Miss Jarvis beseeching her to 
remember it was for outward appUcation only. 

It wasn't bad, only it flavoured the air rather 
strongly for days. 

Ursula's labours were bearing much fruit. 
To look at the scene outside the cottage, you 
might have thought a distraint had been made 
on the contents for rent. Chairs, tables, meat- 
safes, crockery, saucepans, oak chests, pictures, 
books, the warming-pan, brass candlesticks, 
coal-scuttles, fenders, were all basking un- 
blushingly, and in the direst confiision, in the 

What pained me most was to notice how the 
furniture that had looked delightfully appropriate 
in the subdued Ughts of indoors, became appal- 
lingly shabby when subjected to the glare of 

263 s 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

day. I remarked that if I had confronted the 
things on a London burglar's barrow, I should 
neither have recognised them nor have desired 
to claim them. 

Ursula tried to reassure me by reminding 
me that the things were mostly very old, and 
antique things are invariably shabby as well as 
very valuable. Virginia contributed the con- 
soUng information that she had noticed, whenever 
people moved, they always left their good 
furniture behind in the empty house, for they 
only removed shabby-looking things. 

I tried to feel duly proud of my possessions 
once more ; but all the same I suggested that 
we should hurry on as fast as we could ; I had a 
strong conviction that if any of my county 
neighbours called, they would probably be 
more impressed with the disreputable appear- 
ance of my belongings than with their priceless 

Of course, people came while we were still in 
chaos, as I knew they would. The first to arrive 
was Miss Primkins, who apologised for calling 
at such an hour, but she wanted to consult me 
on a private matter, she was so very worried. 
Was I busy? (with an inquiring glance at the 
all-pervading marine-store). Naturally I said 
I wasn't. 

The difficulty was to find a seat indoors to 
accommodate us while we talked ; it wasn't 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

warm enough, as yet, to sit in the open. I 
found two chairs in the china pantry — a fair- 
sized apartment with a big window, even 
though it is called a pantry — and here we 
estabhshed ourselves. Miss Primkins reiterating 
how kind she thought it of me to receive her 
in this homely way, treating her just like one of 
the family. I tried to make her understand, 
however, that, as a general rule, it was not the 
family custom to foregather in the crockery 
cupboard ! 

She was a long while getting to the cause of 
her worry. I wonder why it is that so many 
women, when they start out to say anything, 
wander about and deviate into innumerable side 
channels and backwaters before they get to the 
point ? — but there, I do myself, so we won't 
follow up that line of thought. 

Eventually, it transpired that when war was 
declared, and the attendant moratorium, Miss 
Primkins had hidden away what little gold she 
had in the bottom of a coffee canister, with the 
coffee put in again artlessly on top. Since then 
she had added to her store of gold, till at last she 
had £12 in all. 

On hearing this I scented the trouble, and 
began to commiserate : " You don't mean to 
say someone has stolen it ! Who could it have 
been ? " 

" Oh, no ; it hasn't been stolen — though 
265 s 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

sometimes I almost wish — but there, I oughtn't 
to say that ! No, the difficulty is that now I 
don't know how to get rid of it I I never 
thought there was any harm in putting a Httle 
by, in case anything happened, till I saw in the 
papers that someone said" (lowering her voice) 
"that those who hoard gold are traitors to 
their country, and" (in a still more shocked 
tone) " actually helping Germany ! I'd never 
had any such idea ! Why, it's the very last 
thing I should wish to do I 

" So I started unhoarding at once and took a 
sovereign when next I went out to pay my little 
grocery bill. Miss Jarvis wasn't in the shop 
herself — she wouldn't have been so rude ! — but 
her assistant said, * Well, I never ! Doesn't it 
seem odd to see a sovereign again ! I can't tell 
you when I saw one last. I didn't know there 
was a solitary one left in the village ! Wherever 
did you get it from. Miss Primkins ? ' 

" Do you know, I went hot and cold all over ; 
didn't know what to do with myself, for fear she 
should guess I'd been hoarding and helping the 
country to be a traitor — no, I mean helping 
Germany to be — well — you understand. I just 
said quietly, with all the composure I could 
muster, ' I chanced to have it in my purse,' 
because, after all, it wasn't her business, 
was it ? " 

I agreed that it wasn't. 

Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

" Then 1 thought I would change half a 
sovereign — that would be smaller and look less 
hoardingish — at the station, as I was going into 
Chepstow to get some more wool for those socks 
for Queen Mary. Would you believe it ? — the 
station - master said — you know his jocular 
way — ' Why, Miss Primkins, what bank have 
you been robbing ? I haven't had my hand 
crossed with gold, I don't know when ! I'd 
like to keep it myself, for luck, only the Prime 
Minister would be down on me for hoarding, 1 

" My knees shook so I could hardly get into 
the train. I decided I wouldn't let anyone see 
another bit of it ; yet actually, when I was in 
Mrs. Davis's shop and getting out the money to 
pay for the wool, if I didn't take out another 
half-sovereign in mistake for a sixpence ! — I was 
so unnerved, I suppose — and she said, ' Just 
fancy seeing a half-sovereign again ! I thought 
they were all called in. Wherever did you 
light on that, Miss Primkins ? ' 

"Now you can understand I'm at my wits' 
end to know what to do v^dth that money. I 
can't spend it without everyone knowing. If I 
put it in my savings bank book, and so get it 
back to the Government that way, I have to 
hand it over the counter at the post office. You 
know so much about business, can you suggest 
anything ? " 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

I immediately offered to give the nervous, 
worried lady Treasury notes in exchange. 

" Oh, but I couldn't let you incriminate 
yourself like that," she protested, "kind as it 
is of you. There's your reputation as well as 
mine to be thought of" 

I explained, however, that it was easier to 
dispose of an accusing golden sovereign in 
London without arousing the suspicions of the 
populace than it was in the country, and I said 
I was sure my bank manager would oblige me 
by receiving the gold for the good of the 
country, knowing me to be an honest and 
respectable Enghshwoman. 

" I never thought to be so thankful to see 
the last of a sovereign," she said, as she tucked 
the paper notes into her handbag. "I've 
scarcely slept all this week. Why, Germany 
is the very last thing I would help ! " 

Mrs. Widow came in at the gate as Miss 
Primkins went out; and, seeing the house all 
turned out of windows, looked her surprise at 
such goings on 1 She carried a frying-pan, 
a long-handled broom, a double milk-boiler, an 
egg-beater, and a lemon-squeezer, and explained 
that they had kept beautifully dry in her kitchen, 
whereas they would have been ruined if left to 
get damp in an empty house. Parenthetically, 
she hoped I would excuse her having used half 
a dozen lemons I had left in the pantry last 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

time ; she was afraid they would not keep ; also 
some sugar in a tin, that she dare say might have 
melted away — and it seemed cruel to waste it 
considering the price of sugar. 

Of course I said she was quite welcome. 

And, by the way, was I wanting a jar of 
lemon curd ? Her daughter had made some 
that was really lovely, and she would not mind 
obliging me by selling me a jar. 

While she was describing the distinctive 
merits of the lemon curd, and relating what 
the lady of the manor had said in praise of 
the jar she had purchased, a man-servant arrived 
from the Manor House with a note and a basket, 
which he handed to me (with a very superior air 
that gave me to understand he was not in the 
habit of carrying baskets, and was only doing 
so now as a patriotic act in war time) across 
the kitchen table that stood in the path and 
blocked his further progress. While I read the 
note, he fixed his eyes upon his boots, and 
apparently looked neither to the right hand nor 
to the left ; yet I know that he catalogued 
every item of those wretched domestic odd- 
ments that were decorating the lawn and garden 

Mrs. Widow, possessed of a natural curiosity 
that it is hard to circumvent, was loath to leave 
without a glimpse of the contents of the basket. 
But Virginia got her off by escorting her to the 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

gate, and telling her that I had not been very 
well in town. 

" Ah ! anybody could see that, miss," said 
Mrs. Widow feehngly, glancing in my direction. 
" Don't she just look 'aggard ! " And then, 
seeing a look of surprise on the face of Virginia 
— who distinctly resented my being described as 
haggard — she added hurriedly, " Leastways, I 
mean 'andsome aggard, of course, miss." 

The lady of the manor had written to say 
that a cold was keeping her indoors for a day or 
two ; but in the meanwhile, as they were busy 
curing bacon at the home farm, she had had 
them cut just a Uttle piece of griskin, which she 
was sure I should Uke, and was having it sent up 
at once, etc. 

The superior person left, carrying in one 
hand an envelope addressed to his mistress, 
which contained all the thanks I could muster, 
and in the other a note to be left at the village 
shop, asking Miss Jarvis to send me up a large 
block of salt. 

" What shall you do with all the pork ? " 
Ursula inquired. 

" I haven't the faintest idea ! " I said. " I 
can't bestow any of it on the poor because, no 
matter which piece I gave away, Mrs. Widow's 
married daughter would be sure it was her gift I 
had spurned, and would feel duly slighted." 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

Virginia broke in upon us breathlessly, her 
arms full of pasteboard, soup tureen, hearthrug, 
hassock, and fire-irons, which she had hastily 
gathered up from the path. "The Rector's 
outside in the lane talking to some children." 

" And has he any basket in his hand ? " asked 

** No, he only appears to be carrying his 

" Thank goodness ! " said Ursula fervently, as 
she put the third flank of griskin in the coldest 

By this time the next caller was coming up 
the path, and though I could invite him to take 
a seat in one of the armchairs that were now 
inside, anything hke order had not yet been 
evolved from the chaos. 

The Rector is loved by rich and poor alike, 
by reason of his unselfishness, his absolute 
sincerity and " other- worldUness." He is now 
well on in years, but neither distance nor weather 
keeps him from visiting regularly all in his 
wide - scattered parish. His calls are always 
welcomed, though I admit I should have pre- 
ferred to see him any day other than the one in 

" I have come with a message from my niece," 
he began. " She told me to say that she is 
sending up a small trifle — a little housewifely 
notion of hers — for your kind acceptance. She 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

thought you might find it add a little variety to 
the cottage menu. As a matter of fact, the 
rectory pig has gone the way of most pigs ! And 
we said, the moment we heard you had arrived, 
that we must get you to sample the home-grown 
article, so she is sending you up just a httle piece 

of Ah, here it is, I expect" — as the 

Rector's handy man came in at the gate, carry- 
ing the inevitable basket ; and though the 
contents were wrapped up in a spotless white 
cloth, there was no need for one to be told what 
he was bringing. 

I tried to be as truly grateful as ever I could ; 
I told myself I must not think about the gift 
itself, but must keep my mind focused on the 
kind thought that had prompted the gift. Never- 
theless, the basket seemed very heavy as I carried 
it into the larder, and added one more joint to 
the goodly collection already assembled. And 
as I went back into the living-room, I heard 
Virginia warbling outdoors : 

"Not more than others I deserve, 
But Heaven has given me more." 

There is something singularly exasperating 
about other people's joyousness, when it is 
purchased at one's own expense ! 

We were restoring the last jug to its proper 
hook on the dresser, when once more we saw 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

Miss Primkins toiling up the steep garden 

She really felt terribly ashamed to be in- 
truding on me again ; but she had just read in 
the paper that the Prime Minister now said 
everyone must save, and no one who was a true 
patriot would spend more than was absolutely 
necessary. Now what was the difference be- 
tween hoarding and saving? She did so want 
to do the right thing ; it was so little she could 
do to help her country. Yet, for the life of her, 
she couldn't make out whether she ought to save 
that £12 or spend it. 

Would I mind explaining it to her ? She 
never could understand anything Prime 
Ministers, or people like that, said nowadays ; 
so different from what it was in her young days. 
When there was only Lord Salisbury and Mr. 
Gladstone everything was so sensible and 
straightforward. Her father used to say: 
" Always believe Lord Salisbury ; never beUeve 
Mr. Gladstone " — or else it was the other way 
round, she wasn't sure which. Whereas now, 
what with radicals, and coalitions, and terri- 
torials, and boards of this, that, and the other, 
her brain almost gave way trying to find out 
who anybody was. 

"And when at last I think I've got it 
straightened out, I find there's a lot of *antis,' 
and it's just the opposite thing they say you 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

ought or ought not to do ; or else you have to 
begin at the other end and work backwards. 
What a lot those Germans have to answer for ! " 

I offered my own simple political creed for 
her guidance : " When the King or Lord 
Kitchener says anything, then I know it's all 
right. When they hold their tongues, I know 
it's equally all right ; and the rest I don't worry 
about ! " 

She said I had expressed her own views 
entirely, only she never thought to put it so 
concisely as that. What a wonderful thing it 
was to have a brain like mine that grasped 
things so clearly ! She should just go on being 
economical as her mother had always taught her 
to be, until the King — or, possibly. Queen Mary 
— said anything definite on the subject, then 
people would know where they were. 

" At least, you aren't the only one bothered 
about the question of hoarding," I said. "I'm 
also wrestling with the problem. Look here," 
and I led the way to the larder and gave details. 
"I've been wondering whether, as I relieved 
you of your hoard, you could assist me out with 
mine I Will you accept a piece of griskin, 
merely to get it off my premises ? " 

Miss Primkins was almost tearful in her 
thanks. " It's so strange you should have 
thought to offer this," she said in a sort of 
broken hesitation, " because I'm going to Cardiff 


Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

by the first train to-morrow to see my sisters. 
I always like to take them a little something, 
you understand. They have big families, and 
business is bad now ; and, of course, coming 

from the country Only eggs are so dear, 

and fowls such a price ; and just now — well, you 
know — dividends aren't coming in as they did, 
and I've my three houses standing empty, and 

such a big bill for repairs, and Only, of 

course," rallying herself, " I'm heaps better off 
than those poor Belgians ; but oh, I can't tell 
you how grateful I am to you for your kindness. 
You see, I was keeping that £12 by me in case 
I should be ill — we never know, do we ? — or to 
meet the rent if I should run short. Please 
pardon my speaking of these things, only — you 
understand," and the poor lady blushed to think 
she should have let herself refer to finances. 

Yes, I understood. Rumour had already 
reached me that Miss Primkins had only used 
three hundredweight of coal through the whole 
of the winter (of course, in our village every- 
body knows how much everybody else buys of 
everything), and she had been seen out in the 
woods gathering sticks. She had cut her milk 
down to a half-pint a day, and that was con- 
sumed by Rehoboam (the cat). She seldom had 
any meat, and practised aU sorts of pitiful Uttle 
economies, living chiefly on the vegetables she 
had grown in her garden. But she never let 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

anything interfere with a coin going into the 
Sunday offertory, or her knitting for the troops ; 
and she gave a donation to the Red Cross Fund 
as gladly as anyone. 

It makes one's heart ache to think how many 
poor elderly ladies there are up and down the 
land, who have lost what at best was but a very 
modest meed of comfort, in the present financial 
upheaval ; and these have additional anxiety in 
the fact that it would be torture to them were 
their poverty paraded before the world. They 
have not the physical strength to engage in 
national work, though their spirits are vaUant 
enough for any self-sacrifice. So, since it is all 
they can do for their country, they shoulder 
their burdens uncomplainingly, keeping a frail 
body alive on sugarless tea and sparsely-buttered 
bread, while they knit long, long thoughts into 
socks and comforters, if by any means they can 
raise the money to purchase the wool. 

No Fund is large enough to embrace such as 
these ; no charity could ever meet their case. 
All the same they are part of the bulwark 
strength of England, these dear, faithful women, 
who in old age and feeble health hide their own 
privations beneath a brave exterior, willing to 
make any personal sacrifice rather than Might 
should triumph over Right. 

" Miss Primkins I " I exclaimed, when I 

Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

heard of the Cardiff visit, " I believe you're the 
good fairy who, I used to think, hved at the 
entrance to the waterfall cave under the hill ; 
and I'm certain you've been sent up here for the 
explicit purpose of relieving me of that meat ! 
If you're going to Cardiff, it's your clear duty to 
take a griskin to each of your sisters — hearty- 
eating boys, did you say ? Good ! That will 
rid me of two ! Well, you'll find them at the 
station in the morning waiting for the 9 o'clock 
train — we'll do them up to look like hothouse 
grapes and pineapples." 

Of course she protested, but I remained 
firm ; as I told her, I wasn't going to let slip 
such a heaven-sent opportunity to get those 
joints transported for life. 

When Virginia and Ursula put them in the 
railway carriage next morning, she asked if they 
would mind, as they passed her house on their 
way home, seeing if they could find Rehoboam ; 
he hadn't come back for his milk, and she 
couldn't wait for him. They would find the 
door-key under the fourth flower-pot on the right 
hand window-sill ; and if he was waiting on the 
step (his usual custom about half-past nine) 
would they be so kind as to give him the milk 
that was in the larder? Then she need not 
worry any more about him. 

They found Rehoboam as per schedule, and 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

gave him the milk. They couldn't help seeing 
that there was only a small piece of cold suet 
pudding, a little blackberry jam, and one thin 
slice of bacon in the larder. 

When they got back we set to work on a 
cooking crusade ; and isn't there a delightful 
sense of freedom when you can do what you like 
in your own kitchen, with no Abigail over- 
sighting your operations I We cooked some 
griskin, and made pastry and cakes, and put 
some eggs into pickle. (Do you know these ? 
hard-boiled eggs shelled when cold and put into 
pickle vinegar ; ready in a couple of days.) 

Then when it got to within an hour of train 
time, the girls went down and lit Miss Primkins' 
fire, taking down a scuttle of coals for the 
purpose ; her outside coal-cellar being locked 
fortunately gave us an excuse for not using up 
hers. They also took some milk, three of my 
finest potatoes, and other things. 

By the time the train arrived, and Miss 
Primkins was on a tired homeward walk, the 
kettle was singing on the hob ; three floury 
potatoes — strained, but keeping hot in the sauce- 
pan — stood beside the kettle ; the supper table 
was laid with cold griskin, a jam tart, and a 
small spice cake, while in the larder stood two 
sausage-rolls, a seed cake, and a jar containing 
three eggs in course of pickhng. 

Of course the girls couldn't resist ticketing 

Just a Little 
Piece of Griskin 

the things " Virginia made this, so be cautious ! 
(Signed) Ursula," and similar nonsense, hoping 
thereby to divert JNliss Primkins from the bald 
truth, viz., that we were trying to smuggle 
something into a bare cupboard ! 

Then, after rounding up Rehoboam, and 
placing him on the hearthrug to give an air of 
social welcome, they locked the door, putting 
the key under the fourth flower-pot, and skipped 
up the hill again by the woodland path, as Miss 
Primkins turned into her Uttle garden gate. 



When the Surgeon 

Crossed the Hills 

Of course, it seemed ridiculous for a sane and 
moderately well brought-up individual to dress 
herself to go out — and in a new hat, too — and, 
then, simply because her dog happened to tumble 
out of the window, to collapse on the hearthrug 
like an anaemic concertina, while she draped her 
head gracefully over the fender, with the plumes 
of the said new hat resting resignedly on the 

It didn't seem quite reasonable to want to 
go to sleep Hke that. Still, as I showed signs 
of doing it once more, after they had propped 
me upright again, they decided to put me to 

When I woke up, they told me I was ill. 
That seemed ridiculous, too, and I said so ; and 
added that now I had had a little rest I intended 
to get up and go to town — important appoint- 
ment ; couldn't possibly be spared, etc. 

And they all said lots of things — you know 
the kind of arguments your friends always bring 
to bear on you if you chance to be just a little 
out of sorts. I tried to make them understand 
that I was indispensable to the well-being of 


When the Surgeon 
Crossed the Hills 

London ; that, though they might be in the 
habit of shirking work under the sHghtest 
pretext of a headache, / wasn't that sort of a 
person. I owed it to my conscience, as well as 
to the w^orld at large, to be at work in my office 
within half an hour, penning words of wisdom 
that should keep the universe on its proper 

Ursula merely asked if I hked the milk with 
the beaten egg quite cold or a trifle warm ? 

In the end I had to give in. They insisted 
I was ill ; and I admit I was feeling unusually 

But as the weeks went by I did not get as 
strong as I had hoped to do. I seldom got 
farther than an easy-chair, and not always as far 
as that. So at last I determined to try the cure 
that hitherto had never failed me. Trunks were 
packed, and they got me down by easy stages to 
the cottage among the hills. I felt that if only 
I could see the flowers and breathe the air that 
blows way over from where the Ughthouse bhnks 
in the channel, I should certainly pick up both 
my strength and my courage. 

When I reached the cottage the autumn sun 
was setting on hills that were a gorgeous blaze 
of briUiant crimson, yellow, bright rust, gold, 
pale lemon, chestnut brown, with the dark green 
of yew-trees at intervals. I have never seen 

281 T 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

colours like our autumn hillsides anjrwhere in the 
world, though, of course, they can be matched 
in places where the woods are made up of a wide 
variety of different trees. After the murk of 
London in October the glory of it all fairly 
dazzled me. 

The garden was lovely too, but in a wistful 
sort of way. Snapdragons and zinnias and 
eschscholtzias were blooming lustily ; there were 
still blossoms on the monthly rose bushes ; 
nasturtiums flaunted in odd corners, and made 
splashes of brightness ; the purple clematis over 
the porch was in full flower ; fuchsias, geraniums, 
belated larkspurs, hollyhocks, and sweet alyssum 
talked of summer not yet over; while peeping 
out from crevices among the stones and nestling 
at the roots of trees were primroses already in 
flower ; violets were blooming in the big bed by 
the kitchen door, and the yellow jasmine was 
smothered in bloom — such a curious mixture of 
summer and spring overlapping, with no hint of 
autumn and winter in between. 

The fruit had not all been gathered in, and 
the trees in the orchard, were bowed down with 
masses of crimson and pale green and golden 
yellow and russet brown, with spots of colour 
dotted about among the lush grass. It seemed 
impossible that one could remain ill in such an 
earthly paradise 1 

I was too tired with the journey to go round 

When the Surgeon 
Crossed the Hills 

the garden that day ; I put it off till to-morrow. 
Next day I was not equal to going out at all, 
and the third day I did not get up. 

The colours gradually faded from the hill- 
sides ; the woods grew a purply-brown ; the 
white mists were later and later in rising from 
the river in the valley below me. All day long 
I lay in bed watching the sun move from east to 
west across the mountains, while near at hand 
tomtits and finches, jays and magpies, cheeky 
robins and green and crimson woodpeckers 
flitted about in the bare trees just outside my 

One little wren used regularly to pay me a 
morning call on the window-ledge ; often she 
flew right into the room. I liked to think she 
came to ask how I was. Once I opened my 
eyes to find a robin perched on the rail at the 
bottom of the bed, eyeing me inquiringly. The 
little wild things on these hills seem so friendly. 

As soon as twilight fell the owls woke up the 
adjoining wood, and called to other owls across 
the ravine. 

These were the only sounds to break the 

It is when you are ill, more than at any other 
time, that you realise the human difference 
between town and country. You can live all 
your life, and then be ill and die, in London, and 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

the people next door — even those in the same 
building — may know nothing about it. 

I knew of a girl living in a block of small 
flats occupied by women workers, and trying to 
make a living by journalism, who lay dead in 
her room for a week, and then was only 
discovered by the caretaker because her rent was 
overdue. No one had missed her, though there 
were women going up and down stairs and in 
and out of the rooms, all around her. The 
isolation of the soUtary woman in a crowded city 
can be something awful. 

It isn't that town dwellers at heart are more 
selfish than country folks ; it is their mode of life 
that is to blame. 

London claims so much of one's time and 
energy for the doing of " most important " work, 
and the pursuit of machine-made pleasure, till 
next to nothing is left for the greatest of all 
work and the greatest of all pleasure — merely 
being kind. 

Once it was known that I wasn't getting better 
and the local doctor had been summoned (he 
lives in another village nearly four miles off), 
kindnesses came from all directions, everybody 
offering the best they had. If extra people 
had been required to take turns sitting up at 
night, any number were ready to come on duty. 
One woman, who is exceedingly capable, though 


When the Surgeon 
Crossed the Hills 

an amateur masseuse, came to inquire if it 
was a case where rubbing would be beneficial. 
She brought a bottle of Elliman's with her, in 
case she could be of use, and offered to come 

Did the Buff Orpingtons lay that priceless 
treasure, an unexpected mid- winter egg"^. It 
was promptly sent up by a small child, with a 
kind hope from mother that the lady would be 
able to take it. 

I beheve Sarah Ann Perkins would have 
slain every duck she possessed (and have scorned 
to take payment), if only there had been the 
sUghtest chance of my once more eating that 
fair slice from the breast ! 

A calfs foot was needed for jelly. The 
butcher hadn't one, didn't know who had; but 
one arrived next day, though he had had to 
scour the county for it. 

Was anything required hurriedly from the 
village shop ? Everybody was wiUing to go and 
fetch it, or Miss Jarvis would toil up with it 
herself, after the shop was closed, rather than I 
should be kept waiting, bringing up a bunch of 
early violets from her garden at the same time. 

One farmer's wife trailed up the rough, wet 
paths, with a little pigeon all ready for roasting, 
in the hope that it might tempt me. 

The handy man went out and shot an owi 
because he was sure I must find all they hooters 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

a turr'ble noosance. Of course he didn't know 
how I love the owls, nor how companionable it 
seemed to hear them calling to one another 
through the long, long night. But probably the 
kind thought behind his gun was of greater 
worth than the bird he shot. 

Yes, everybody was anxious to do something, 
only there was so little they could do — till one 
day AngeUna lost herself! She had followed 
Abigail in the afternoon to the village, where a 
dog suddenly scared and chased her, and she 
flew off into the woods. 

Abigail hunted for her till the winter dusk 
settled in, but no cat responded to her calls. So 
she had to content herself with mentioning the 
matter at each cottage in the vicinity, everyone 
willingly undertaking to keep a look-out for the 
missing cat. By the next afternoon every 
youngster in the village was out scouting for 
her, and saucers of milk were placed enticingly 
outside doors. 

But poor Angy was never seen again. 

I missed her very much. She was only a 
very ordinary tabby, but she was a large, com- 
fortable, homely sort of a cat ; and she had 
made it part of her daily programme to come 
upstairs and jump softly on my bed with a 
pleased Uttle mew, and then settle herself down 
beside me, where I could reach out my hand to 
stroke her, while she purred soothingly the 


When the Surgeon 
Crossed the Hills 

whole time. The little dog was too boisterously 
demonstrative, in his joy at seeing me, to be 
allowed in the room ; but the more sedate and 
gentle Angelina helped me to pass many a 
weary hour. 

When all search for her proved fruitless, the 
kindly village people didn't dismiss the matter 
as done with. Forthwith there started a pro- 
cession from the village to my house, and about 
every hour someone arrived with an oiFering. I 
could hear their voices at the door below, 
through the open bedroom window. 

First it was a labouring man with a big 
hamper : *' My missus is so worrit about the 
poor young lady losing her cat, so I've brought 
up our Tom, if she'd care to accept him. He's 
a fust-class ratter — killed a big 'un in our bam 
yesterday," etc. 

Then it was the piping voice of a small girl, 
accompanied by two smaller : " Please, we're so 
sorry about the lady not having a pussy when 
she's poorly, and we've brought her our two 
little kitties, an' one has six toes I " 

Next a bigger girl : " Gran says would miss 
like one of our kittens ? They'll be able to leave 
their mother next week, and I'll bring the lot up 
for her to choose from, if she'd like one." 

A boy arrived with a basket containing a fine 
black cat. " Mother's sent this for the lady. 
Just you see how he'll jump over my hand and 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

stand on his hind legs ! " — (a wild scramble 
followed). " Here, Peter ! here — come hack — 
Pe-ter ! Puss, puss, puss ! There now, I've 
done it ! Mother said as I wasn't to open the 
basket till I was inside the house I I 'spect he's 
back home again by now ! But I'll bring him 
up again presently. The lady'll love to have 
him, he's so knowing." 

Later, I heard a woman's voice : " Poor dear 
soul, it do seem hard ; and the on'y cat she've got, 
too I Well, we've six to our house, and she can 
have all of ourn and welcome." 

As Virginia said, it was not quite so embar- 
rassing as griskins, because, at least, each had 
four legs with which to get itself off home again. 

But it is weary work lying still day after day 
till the weeks actually lengthen into months. I 
kept on teUing myself I was making headway, 
but it was a poor pretence. I gave up thinking 
about it at last, and wondered how I could best 
endure the pain that no one seemed able to 

The autumn had now changed to winter, and 
one morning I woke to see snow bearing down 
the fir-trees and lying on the hills. The snow is 
very beautiful when one is well and strong, and 
able to go out in the crisp cold air and enjoy it ; 
but to me, penned in among the hills, miles away 
from town and the advantages of up-to-date 


When the Surgeon 
Crossed the Hills 

civilisation, it gave a sudden sense of desolation. 
It shut me off most effectually from the big 
world I wanted so badly to see again. As I 
looked out upon that snow, it seemed as though 
I were buried already. 

One desire swamped all others, and that was 
the longing to get back to London where friends 
would be around me, and specialists within easy 
reach. And yet that appeared to be an utter 
impossibility. It has always been a matter of 
pride with me that my cottage is situated in one 
of the most inaccessible spots in the British Isles ; 
I used to feel so happy in the thought that it 
was only with the utmost difficulty that a vehicle 
could be got near the garden gate. It gave me 
such a sense of seclusion and delightful " far- 
away-ness " after the crush and hustle of town 

But for once I wished I had been a wee bit 
more accessible. I realised that there might be 
certain advantages in having a good county road 
close by whereon a helpless invalid could be 
driven to the station without having every bone 
in her body jolted to pieces ! But it was too 
late to do anything now. 

Altogether it was two months before I let 
anyone in town know how ill I really was ; most 
people thought I was merely taking a long rest. 
Naturally it was at once suggested a specialist 
should be sent for ; but I said no. I was such a 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

weak creature by this time, I felt I couldn't bear 
to hear the worst — I was almost sure there would 
be a " worst " to hear — and that a specialist 
wouldn't diagnose my illness as merely overwork. 
I insisted that I would rather be left to die 
quietly. I know it sounds very cowardly, and 
I was a coward at the time. But I think many 
women will understand this condition of mind ; 
we do try so often to push back, with both our 
hands, trouble of this sort, when we dimly see 
it ahead. 

The hale and hearty person will naturally 
exclaim : " How perfectly ridiculous ! How 
much more sensible to have proper advice, and 
then set to work to get strong again ! " I know ! 
I have myself said this sort of thing to ill people 
many a time in the past ! But I learnt a lot of 
things during that breakdown ; among them, 
that it is very easy to lay down the law as to 
what should be done, and to act in a common- 
sense manner, when one is well ; but it is quite 
another thing to follow one's own good advice, 
or, in fact, do anything one ought to do, when 
one is too weak even to think ! 

Yet how often it happens that, in our direst 
extremity, help comes when least expected I So 
soon as it became known in town that I was 
really seriously ill, there appeared among my 
morning letters a note from one of London's 
most famous surgeons saying that he was coming 


When the Surgeon 
Crossed the Hills 

down on a friendly visit in a couple of days 
"just to see if I can help you at all." 

I read the letter a second time, and then all 
my fears vanished. Someone coming " to help " 
me seemed so different from a formal consulta- 
tion. That phrase was better than reams of 
ordinary sympathy, or kind inquiries, or pro- 
fessional expressions. And then I felt so glad 
that the matter had been taken out of my hands. 
It seemed as though a weight was hfted from 
my brain, and being a feeble as well as a foolish 
creature, at first I put my head under the eider- 
down and had a weep — for sheer gratitude ; but 
a few minutes later I rubbed my eyes and felt I 
was heaps better already I 

Yet the way was not entirely clear, even 
though this busy, over-worked speciahst was 
offering to spend more than a day in journeying 
right across England to the far-off cottage ; 
there was the snow to be reckoned with, and, 
when it Hkes, the snow on our hills can 
frustrate anybody's best-laid plans. The sky 
was very grey; I did hope no more would 
fall, otherwise the roads would probably be 

Owing to the scarcity of trains in our valley, 
the local doctor was to tap the main line some 
miles away, and meet the great surgeon ; and a 
rich resident was kindly loaning a cherished new 


The Flower-Patch 
axnong the Hills 

car, as the doctor did not consider either of his 
own motors worthy of the occasion. 

But even he was dubious as he looked at the 
heavy skies. He said he could manage to get the 
car through eighteen inches of snow ; but if it 

were deeper than that ! I remembered 

that only a couple of years before I had been 
snowed up in the cottage with drifts six-foot 
deep. The outlook wasn't exactly encouraging. 

Such heaps of tragedies seemed possible 
within the next twenty-four hours. Suppose, 
for instance, royalty should suddenly develop 
some malady necessitating arms or legs being 

amputated without delay I I simply dared 

not think about such a calamity ; and even though 
the speciahst escaped a royal command, and 
actually set off to catch the train that was to 
bring him to our hill-country, there might be an 
accident ; London streets are beset with terrors ; 
I never realised till that moment how many 
dangers a man must face between Wimpole 
Street and Paddington Station I But I tried to 
have faith that all would be well. 

I heard a soft step in the room — every step 
that came near me was softened nowadays. I 
opened my eyes and saw Abigail beside my bed. 

" Please, m'm, do you happen to know if the 
specialist-doctor takes pepper ? " she asked in the 
half-whisper that she had adopted as her bed- 
room voice. 


When the Surgeon 
Crossed the Hills 

" I haven't the remotest idea," I said ; " but 
why do you want to know ? " 

" Because we've just smashed the glass 
pepper-box, and we haven't another down here. 
And I can't exactly put it on the table in a 
mustard-pot ! " 

I watched for the snow, the eighteen inches 
I was dreading ; but the wind changed and it 
didn't fall. Instead, next morning found us 
enveloped in a solid fog — the only fog we had 
had this season. Hills and valleys were blotted 
out as completely as though they had never 
existed. The cottage seemed to stand in mid- 
air, with nothing but grey unoccupied space 
around it. And it was such a raw, penetrating 

I just lay and watched the grey, blind world 
outside the windows, and counted the half-hours 
as the morning wore by. And isn't it amazing 
how long the very minutes can be when one is 
right-down ill, and waiting for a doctor ? 

In a small isolated community Hke ours, one 
excitement is made to do duty for a long while. 
The impending visit of the surgeon from London 
was soon the topic of general conversation. And 
Httle white curtains were pulled aside from 
cottage windows as the car, with the doctor and 
a stranger, was seen coming down one hill and 
over the bridge into the village in the valley, 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

switchbacking again up the opposite hill to reach 
the particular crag on which my cottage is 

Owing to previous heavy rains, the lanes 
were almost impassable in places ; overflowing 
brooks made rivers and swamps in most un- 
expected spots. Thus it was that the car could 
not come within half-a-mile of the cottage ; it 
had to be " beached " high and dry in somebody's 
farmyard, and the rest of the journey made on 
foot. The walk is a positive fairyland dream in 
summer; but on the bleak December day the 
ferns and flowers were gone, and the withered 
grass stalks rustled with a disconsolate wheeze, 
while the pine-trees creaked and moaned in the 
wind. It seemed an unkind, inhospitable sort of 
a day to bring a busy, valuable man such a long, 
cold distance. 

At last I heard brisk footsteps coming down 
the path to the door, scrunching the cones that 
had fallen from the larches. Then a cheerful 
voice was speaking, while great-coats were being 
taken off down below. I shut my eyes, and felt 
1 need not worry any more. 

After all, we women are curious creatures I 
We consult a speciahst when we have some 
weakness that won't give way to ordinary treat- 
ment, and then, when, out of his exceptional 
knowledge and wide experience, he tells us what 


When the Surgeon 
Crossed the Hills 

will probably cure us, many of us immediately 
beseech him to make it something else. 

When the surgeon told me what course it 
would be necessary to take if I was to be got on 
to my feet again, I immediately began to state a 
hundred reasons why I wished he would prescribe 
something entirely different. He said he was 
going to have me brought to London at once 
and taken to a hospital. I knew that was the 
very last thing I could endure. I have always 
had an absolute terror lest I should ever have to 
go into a hospital ; and here I was confronted 
with it face to face. I said I could not go into 
one ; whatever treatment was necessary must be 
done in my own home. I didn't want to be 
among strangers and with nurses whom I had 
never seen before ; I wanted to be nursed by 
people I knew. And as for chloroform, well, I 
would gladly die first ! such was the horror I 
had of it. And I continued on these Unes. 

The surgeon listened very patiently and let 
me have my say out. (Where in the world does 
a man hke this get his marvellous stock of 
patience from !) He even agreed with most of 
my arguments. Anaesthetics were disagreeable ; 
it certainly would be pleasanter to be in my own 
home ; and it might be nicer if I had only friends 
around me, etc. 

But, all the same, it was borne in upon me 
that I might as well try to get the Sphinx to 

295 u 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

turn its head and nod over to a pyramid, as to 
attempt to make the man who was talking to 
me budge an eighth of an inch. And he wound 
up by saying, " I am afraid, however, that it 
will have to be a hospital — I'm so sorry — but I 
want you to go into a private ward in Mildmay. 
You shall have the best man in London to 
administer the anaesthetic ; and as for nurses — 
well, if you don't say they are some of the finest 
women you have ever met, I shall be much 

By this time I had my head under the eider- 
down again, and was howHng away (quietly). I 
was so truly sorry for myself ! 

The great man waited for a minute, and then, 
as the sniffles didn't stop, he said — 

"Now just listen to me. You are in the 
habit of writing heaps of good advice to people 
when they are in trouble — telling them to have 
faith when adversity comes, and to bear their 
burdens bravely. Don't you think you are a 
most inconsistent person ? Here you are, con- 
fronted with something that is going to be a 
trifle trying, and you immediately turn your face 
to the wall, and say you prefer to die, without 
so much as giving a soHtary kick I Why, 
Hezekiah isn't in it, beside you I What is your 
faith worth at this rate ! " 

Then for a good half-hour he sat and talked, 
reminding me of our duty as professing Chris- 


When the Surgeon 
Crossed the Hills 

tians ; of the wrong we do when we try to shuffle 
away from our work ; of God's care for His 
children individually, and of our foolishness in 
doubting Him in times of trouble. 

I had got to a very low ebb spiritually as 
well as physically. Being cut off from the world 
and so much alone, with only a pain to think 
about, my outlook on life had become altogether 
distorted. My soul was certainly in need of a 
bracing up just then — and it got it. 

One thing impressed me very much at this 
time, viz., the marvellous power that lies in the 
hands of those who can bring healing to the soul 
as well as healing to the body. The most 
devoted of God's ministers have seldom such 
power as this. They can bring messages of hope 
and consolation, but they do not know how much 
a sick person is able, physically, to stand in the 
way of a strong spiritual tonic, and they seldom 
dare administer one, even though they may think 
it necessary. 

But the doctor knows how much the patient 
is equal to. And the man who has consecrated 
to God's service a Ufe that is spent in mending 
the poor broken bodies of humanity is surely 
doing work that angels might envy ; undoubtedly 
God gives him power and opportunity that falls 
to the lot of few other men. 

The December afternoon closed in early, and 

297 u 2 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

the surgeon had once more to take a long, dreary 
journey to get back to the urgent work waiting 
for him in town. But he left behind him a far 
more sane and sensible person than he had found 
on his arrival. 

When he had gone, after having made the 
most comprehensive and detailed plans for my 
removal, Abigail tiptoed into my room, her face 
all aglow with excitement. 

" I thought you'd like to know I heard the 
speciaUst-doctor say, when I was bringing in the 
sweets at lunch, that he didn't know when he 
had eaten roast chicken he had enjoyed so much. 
I shall rub it into cook when we go home. 
And I'd better let Sarah Ann Perkins know, as 
we got it from her." 

"Take whatever is left, and keep it for a 
souvenir," I said. " And if you like to have the 
carcase framed, I'll pay for it." 

" You look better already," she replied. 

Thus the great man scattered cheeriness in 
various directions ; and Sarah Ann, a year later, 
pridefully showed me the chicken's wings a-top 
her best Sunday bonnet. 

In just as much time as it took my London 
doctor to come west to assume charge of me, 
they got me under way. 

"But how am I ever going to reach the 
main road ! " I wailed. 


When the Surgeon 
Crossed the Hills 

" Perfectly easy," said Ursula. " You are 
going to be carried, and every masculine in the 
place is willing to lend a hand." 

And so they did. One young man made 
himself entirely responsible for my luggage, 
going off with it by train, that there should be 
no chance of any delay. A stalwart fisherman 
and a sturdy young farmer carried me, in a chair, 
straight up hill for half a mile to where a motor 
was waiting on the county road. 

Everybody was so gentle and quiet, and yet 
very businessHke. They stood silently, with 
their hats off, while I was put into the car. I 
looked round on the hills, convinced that I was 
looking at them for the last time, and felt 
exactly as though I were present at my own 
funeral ! 

Even the people in the village kept sym- 
pathetically in the background, with the same 
sort of respect one observes when a funeral 
procession passes ; though at the last house in 
the village one dear kindly soul pulled her Httle 
white curtains aside, waving her hand and 
smiling encouragingly to me as we went by. 



In Mildmay Hospital 

— An Interlude 

I don't think there is anything worse than the 
sense of utter desolation that envelops you 
when the hospital door finally closes on every- 
body you know, and you are alone with total 
strangers and unknown terrors ahead. The 
dreariest moment of my whole life was when I 
found myself alone in a private ward at Mildmay, 
with no one whom I knew within call. 

Yet was it mere chance, I wonder, that the 
nurses at their prayers that day sang Matheson's 
beautiftd hymn — " O Love, that wilt not let me 

It came to me along the corridor, as I lay 
staring at the ceiling. I tried, in my heart, to 
sing it with them ; but I gave it up when they 
got to the verse — 

" O Joy, that seekest me through pain, 
I cannot close my heart to Thee ; 

I trace the rainbow through the rain, 

And feel the promise is not vain. 
That morn shall tearless be." 

I couldn't see the rainbow just then. 

Nevertheless, I got to love that room as one 
of the happiest spots on earth, for the sake of 
the people whom I found there ; and during the 


In Mildmay Hospital 
—An Interlude 

ten weeks 1 remained in it, I proved beyond all 
chance of further doubt that when God seems to 
be taking from us. He is in reahty giving us 
something better than all we could ever ask or 
think. At the moment of the taking, perhaps, 
our eyes are too dimmed to see this, but in the 
fulfilment of time, when He wipes away our 
tears, may it not be that, in addition to banishing 
our sorrows. He will clear our vision, that we 
may see how marvellously He made all things 
work together for good ? 

Next day I remarked, irritably, that I didn't 
Uke the green walls, and I thought the green 
bedspread positively bilious. 

The matron, looking at me with a twinkle 
in her eyes, said, " Dear lady, you shall have 
another bedspread this instant ; and as soon as 
you are well enough to be moved, we will 
re-paint the walls whatever colour meets with 
your approval ; — we can't do it while you are 
in bed, can we? Meanwhile, I shall call you 
* Delicate Fuss ' I " 

(And " Delicate Fuss " I have remained ever 

But there was such an amount of misery 
bottled up inside me, some of it was obliged to 
spill over, and I once more reiterated my desire 
to die. 

"That's all right," said the matron cheer- 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

fully ; " but how about your tombstone ? You 
would like a really artistic one, wouldn't you ? 
And being literary, surely you would wish to 
edit what is to go on it. Now let us see what 
we can scheme out." 

So we all settled to a discussion of shapes and 
styles and suitable words. The nurses warmed 
to the work, the ward sister came in to give her 
views, and for the first time for weeks I found 
myself smiling. Finally, it was unanimously 
decided that the most appropriate and truthful 
description would be these simple words — 


But the time came when I was beyond even 
discussing tombstones ; when I could not bear a 
sound in the room and even quiet footsteps 
jarred me. Then it was that I found out more 
especially what the spirit of Mildmay stands for. 
It was no mere perfunctory service that was 
rendered the invaUd. Doctors, matron, nurses 
said nothing of the extra hours of work they put in 
on my account ; of the watching and the tending 
when they were really supposed to be off duty. 
It seemed wonderful that I, who had looked 
forward to the inevitable with a terrible dread 
of being lonely and among strangers, should 
actually find myself, when the time came, sur- 
rounded by friendly faces, and cared for by 
people who had grown very dear to me. 


In Mildmay Hospital 
— An Interlude 

And fancy a hospital where they went to the 
trouble of bandaging up the door-handles to 
prevent noisy bangs ; where they laid down 
matting to deaden the sounds in the corridor; 
where they fixed peremptory notices to the 
doors, enjoining all and sundry to close them 
quietly ; where even the ward-maid constituted 
herself dragoness-in-chief, for the time being, 
watching and waiting, and then pouncing on any 
unthinking person who might let a latch sUp 
through her fingers, or a house-porter who might 
clatter a coal-scuttle. 

Yet this — and a great deal more — is what 
they did at Mildmay, just because one patient 
was going through a bad time. 

Thanks to all the care I received, I was at 
last able to leave the hospital. Of course I was 
glad to go out into the big world again — who 
wouldn't be, after lying all that time with no 
other " view " visible from where 1 lay but three 
chimney-pots ? I was glad to think I was going 
to be able to walk again, and take up my work 
once more. But I felt genuine regret at having 
to say good-bye to the people I had really grown 
to love during my stay with them. 

I shall never forget the morning that I was 
taken away by a couple of nurses to the seaside. 
The others came, in ones and twos, to say good- 
bye. And in the midst of it, the great surgeon 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

walked in — just to see what the patient was Uke 
before she started. 

"Now confess," he said, " a hospital isn't such 
a bad place after aU, is it ? " 

I agreed with him ; but I couldn't put into 
words what a wonderfully good place I had 
found it. 

I could only think what a contrast was pre- 
sented between the poor, forlorn thing who 
arrived those months before, and the stiU-very- 
wobbly, but cheerfuUy-smiHng, person who was 
now driving away, while the nurses leaned out 
of the upper windows and showered rice all over 
the vehicle. 



The Return to the 


And because it is the correct thing to introduce 
a wedding into the last chapter, I had better 
mention the one I know most about. 

I always did say that, whenever I married, 
my wedding should be characterised by every- 
thing appertaining to common sense ; while all 
the feebleness and foolishness and weakminded- 
ness I had noticed at other people's weddings 
would be entirely lacking. I have often re- 
marked how strange it is that otherwise sensible 
people seem to lose all idea of proportion when 
it comes to arranging a wedding ; how they let 
themselves be obsessed with clothes and furniture 
and wedding presents that they don't require ; or 
if they do require them, they might have been 
dealt with on orderly systematic lines. 

" Why need there be a chaos of garments in 
the spare room and every wardrobe and chest of 
drawers in the house just because one person is 
going to be married ? " I have said many a time. 
Well, I'm not going to say it again. In fact, 
the older I get the more I find life resolves itself 
into one continual discovery that I needn't have 
said half the things that I did say in my first 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

But with regard to the wedding. 1 think 1 
started all right ; it was as matters proceeded 
that I was overtaken by the inevitable. I really 
was too busy with arrears of work that accumu- 
lated during my long illness to see to the 
trousseau details in extenso, so I asked an intimate 
friend if she would take this in hand for me — 
which she kindly agreed to do. She had had 
lots of experience, and her taste was exquisite ; 
so I knew matters were safe with her. She asked 
me what frocks I already had. I rephed, " Not 
a rag fit to wear I " 

" Then I'll make a good selection, and have 
them sent home for you to choose from," she 
rephed, her face suffused with that joy-radiance 
that invariably overtakes a woman who starts 
out shopping with a blank cheque in her hand- 

She certainly did make a good selection ; I 
almost wished it hadn't been quite so good, then 
at least I should have known what to send back. 
But as it was, every fresh box I opened, I ex- 
claimed, " Isn't that lovely ! I must have that I " 
till presently the room was a billowy sea of 
tissue paper and beautiful garments that looked 
as though hands had never touched them. I 
thought I was quite hardened and proof against 
lures of this kind ; but the snare of it simply 
enmeshes you before you know where you are. 
As my bedroom was soon full to overflowing, I 


The Return to 
the Flower-Patch 

said the rest of the things had better go into a 
spare room. Very soon the spare rooms were 
full too. And so we went on Hke that ! 

Why didn't I put the things away in drawers 
and wardrobes ? Simply because every such 
receptacle I possessed was full to distraction 
before the trousseau things started to arrive I 
Did you ever know a woman who possessed a 
drawer or a wardrobe peg that wasn't already 
over full, and she pining for more space ? So 
for weeks we had to hop over piles of cardboard 
boxes no matter what room we entered, and 
scrabble up more bales of tissue paper and 
things to make room on the sofa for tha 
friend who called to bring her good wishes in 

Still, I have always thought that a strong 
argument in favour of a woman getting married 
is the fact that she, presumably, comes in for 
additional drawers and wardrobes. Hence I 
looked forward to getting into my new home 
with considerable satisfaction in view of the 
purchase of extra furniture. 

" Yes, I know it's a bit crowded just now," I 
agreed, when Virginia suggested I should set up 
a shop with " JModes et Robes " over the door, 
because she had estimated that I shouldn't need 
to buy any tissue paper for eleven years and five 
months. " But I shall have heaps of spare room 
when I get into the new house ; I really shan't 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

know what to do with so many chests of 
drawers I " 

But alas ! in spite of the additional furniture, 
1 am stiU squeezing things into drawers that 
would be so much more useful if made of elastic 
india-rubber instead of wood. And I am still 
flattening garments into wardrobes that are so 
bulgingly full that I wonder sometimes whether 
the looking-glass will stand the inside pressure. 
And still I don't seem to have a rag fit to 

But the moving process was even worse than 
the trousseau. The very thought of it was 
turning my brain to stone. 

When I mentioned my quakings about the 
moving to the Head of Affairs, he said airily, 
" Don't you give a solitary thought to that. 
Just go away for a couple of days' holiday, and 
when you come back you will find everything as 
right as can be in the new house. You don't 
need to touch a thing or pack an atom. The 
men do everything. Now, why bother your head 
with unnecessary worrying ? " etc. 

I seemed to think I had heard the same re- 
mark made in the dim past when we removed 
from one house to another in my early days. I 
also remember that the brother of Virginia and 
Ursula said the very same thing to them when 
they moved, and they, acting on masculine 
advice, had the greatest difficulty, ultimately, in 


The Return to 
the Flower-Patch 

ever finding any solitary thing they possessed 
(including themselves) among the ruins. So I 
decided to postpone the couple of days' hoHday 
and face the worst. 

There is no need to go into details about 
that move. Those who have been through it 
know exactly how many months it takes to find 
such things as the corkscrew, the buttonhook, 
the oil- can belonging to the sewing-machine, 
the one hammer that has its head fixed on 

They know the joy with which you fall on 
the missing sofa cushions when they are eventually 
discovered done up with spare bedding in the 
attic — that everyone has been too tired to undo ; 
and the affectionate greetings bestowed on the 
hall clothes-brush when it is at length found — in 
company with the dog's whip — in a drawer one 
has forgotten in a small table. Of course, it's 
very satisfactory when the perspiring gentleman 
who has packed — and then unpacked again — all 
the china comes to announce, " Not a single 
piece is cracked or chipped, madam ; " but when 
you survey the piles of crockery and glass on 
the kitchen dresser and table and window-ledge 
and mantelpiece, that haven't yet found an 
abiding-place, and see the pantries fiill to over- 
flowing, a lurking thought coines that perhaps it 
might have been an advantage if he had smashed 
a few dozens of the multitudinous array of cups 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

and saucers and plates and dishes that seem 
woefully superfluous at the moment I 

As there seemed a good bit still to do, I said 
I would dispense with the conventional " tour," 
proper to the occasion, and spend the time trying 
to dispose of the twenty-seven British workmen, 
supposed to be house-decorating, who were cheer- 
fully in possession (and apparently regarding their 
posts as Ufe appointments) when our goods arrived 
at the door, despite our having let them hve in 
the house rent free for two months previously. 

It was a little difficult to follow their twenty- 
seven lines of argument as to why they should 
remain with us permanently, with Abigail con- 
tinually at my elbow presenting a tradesman's 
card and explaining — 

" Please, ma'am, this man says he served the 
people who were here before ; but I've told him 
he's the ninth fishmonger who has said that 

Or else it would be, " There's a man at the 
door says he served the last people with groceries. 
Can I tell him to run back and get some soap ? 
I can't find where the men put our packets, and 
it will be quicker than sending to the Stores. I 
suppose you don't happen to have seen it, m'm ? 
Cook and I have looked everywhere. But we've 
found the anchovy sauce, and the carpet beater. 

Where do you think they had packed them ' 

and so on. 


The Return to 
the Flower-Patch 

But I determined to do my wifely duty in 
making a happy home for the man who had had 
the courage to marry me. 

I was politely attentive when interviewed by 
a near-by magnate who was anxious to propose 
the Head of Affairs for the Conservative Club. 
I accepted particulars supphed me by the 
secretary of the Golf Club, who felt we were the 
very people the club needed. I tried to under- 
stand when the gardener explained the peculiar- 
ities of the greenhouse heating apparatus, and 
the danger that would threaten if anyone but 
himself entered the greenhouse. 

I endured the postman knocking at the door 
a dozen times a day to inquire if we lived there, 
only to point out to us that we didn't when we 
had assured him that we did. I informed the 
sweep that everything was quite satisfactory 
thank you, and I should hope to have the 
pleasure of meeting him again. 

I accepted the coal man's many reasons for 
not having deUvered the coal sooner ; and I 
thanked cook for the information that the police- 
man said he or his mate would always be on 
point duty at the corner whenever we wanted 

I filed half a bushel of tradesmen's price Hsts 
and laundry data. 

I put the whole household on a milk-pudding 
diet, rather than waste the numerous samples of 

311 X 

The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

milk left, by rival and mutually abusive dairy- 
men, in a row of cans at the side door. 

And when a sumptuously apparelled resident 
called to say that the previous occupant had 
always contributed Uberally to the local working 
men's brass band, I tried to look gratified to hear 
of such generosity — though I had the presence of 
mind to say I should not be at home on Saturday 
evening when they proposed to serenade me in 
the front garden. 

Yes, it was a pleasant and peaceful couple of 
days, and I dare say I should have been aU the 
better for the complete rest, had not the tele- 
phone men and the gas stove men called 
simultaneously with the electrical engineers (who 
had been summoned to see why the electric Ught 
sulked), and, with a unanimity of purpose that 
was truly beautiful in a world so full of variance, 
they all set to work to take up floor-boards, 
in rooms and halls where the carpets and 
lino had been laid — the twenty-seven standing 
around and assisting with reminiscence and 

Then it was that the Head of Affairs put 
down a firm foot and insisted on the Flower- 

At first Abigail was reluctant to leave such 
bright scenes in the kitchen as she hadn't known 
for several years ; but, remembering that a halo 
of distinction surrounds the bearer of exclusive 


The Return to 
the Flower-Patch 

information, no matter how unimportant, she set 
off cheerfully next morning, and we followed a 
day later. 

She prided herself on the tactful way she 
broke her news to the village. 

" Hasn't Miss Klickmann come down long 
with 'ee ? " inquired Mrs. Widow and the handy 
man in unison. 

"You'll never see Miss Klickmann again," 
Abigail rephed in funereal tones. 

" Oh ! You don't tell me so ! Poor dear 
thing I though I knowed she wasn't long for this 
world," and kind-hearted Mrs. Widow started 
to mop her eyes with her apron. " Was it very 
suddint at the last ? " 

"Very!" said the handmaiden. "Couldn't 
make up her mind till the very day before the 

When they had grasped the true state of 
affairs, and imbibed enough particulars to have 
filled three newspaper columns, Mrs. Widow 
hurried off home, and then on to the village, 
hkewise conscious of the halo of distinction. But 
the handy man paused — 

" I wish I'd er knowed a bit sooner," he said, 
" then I'd er made an arch with ' Welcome ' on 
it as large as you please. Yes, I'd er like to 
have had an arch. But thur," — after a moment's 
thought — " perhaps I'd better do a bit o' weedin' 
and cut the grass." 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

Thus it happened that I was once again going 
along the road, over which they had carried me 
only seven months before. It was cold and 
cheerless then; now it was all flowers and 

The kindly, motherly soul who lives in the 
end house was at her gate now, watching for our 

" Well there 1 Well there ! " as the wagonette 
stopped for me to speak to her. " I thought I 
should never see you again" — and she grasped 
my hand in her own, having first poUshed it on 
her apron, which is always fresh and spotless. 
" And now here you are. My dear, I'm that glad 
to see you back, and I do hope you'll be happy." 

The stalwart fisherman, standing on the river 
bank, raised his cap — I hadn't forgotten the 
good work he had done for me. Miss Jarvis at 
the village shop came to the door and waved her 
hand — I remembered the box of violets and 
moss and little ferns she had posted to the 

In the cottage itself kind hands had been 
hard at work ; it was simply a bower of wild 
flowers. The walls inside were nearly smothered 
with trophies of moon daisies, grasses and ferns, 
and the same scheme of flowers was carried all 
up the stairs. On the window ledge on the 
landing were bowls of Sweet Betsy and cow 
parsley — and such a pretty mixture the crimson 


The Return to 
the Flower-Patch 

and the white flowers made. Upstairs the rooms 
were gay with bowls of forget-me-nots and 
buttercups. Downstairs it was wild roses and 
honeysuckle, with mugs of red clover on the 
mantelpieces. Being summer, the fire-grates 
were at hberty, and these were filled with 
branches of bracken, ivy, silvery honesty seeds, 
and foxglove. Everything had such a deUght- 
fully " misty " effect, by reason of the seeding 
grasses that had been added lavishly to the 

The only garden flowers in the house were 
some roses, in the centre of the dinner-table, 
sent by Miss Jarvis (with some pale green young 
lettuces) from her garden. 

Outside the swallows were twittering, and, 
like all the other birds, were fussing about their 
small families. The distant hills were glowing 
crimson by the acre where the timber had been 
cut, I knew it was myriads and myriads of fox- 
gloves. Near at hand the Flower-Patch was a 
mass of nodding blossoms, coupled, with a 
choice variety of weeds. I wondered where I 
had better begin, and how I should cope with 
the bindweed, flaunting itself everywhere that 
it had no business to be. Had I better start 
the handy man on it at oncQ, or would it be 
better to set him to cut the hedges ? 

But even as I was planning out a good week's 
work for him, I saw him coming up the path, a 


The Flower-Patch 
among the Hills 

picturesque figure in a blue jersey, a large, shady, 
rush hat, and carrying, as signs of office, a pitch- 
fork, a scythe, and a rake ; and I heard his voice 
in the garden speaking to the Head of Affairs : 
" Good-day to 'ee, sir. I'm main glad to see 'ee, 
for I calkerlate as how in future I takes my 
orders from the master." 


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